I recently went to Copenhagen – on my own.
As previously mentioned, I was due to have a weekend away in November. When that failed to materialize, I hesitantly concluded that something better must be on the horizon.
Turns out something far better was!
Not only did I get double the time off, I got to go on a chilled girly trip with one of my best friends. In a foreign country. Can’t beat travel, you know.
I had already planned a long weekend in Copenhagen to meet Lilly’s godmother en route from South America to Australia via a wedding in Sweden (don’t you just love the sound of that!).
Copenhagen seemed the ideal location for the Fairy Goddaughter (FGD) to connect with the Fairy Godmother (FGM). Significantly closer than ‘down under’, although a trip to Oz will undeniable be in the cards at some point.
Anyway, when I went into a general funk at the end of last year, Rob casually floated the idea of me going on my own. Yes, it defeated the objective of the planned FGM/FGD reunion, but the prospect of a much-needed parenting break was just too good to refuse. I have a reasonably strong belief in putting my own needs first, so that decision was relatively easily made. (sorry Rachael!)
Next came the greater dilemma:
Was I gonna be able to actually see it through, and trust that Rob and Lilly would be ok?
Like any good woman, I hashed this out with two of my good friends:
Friend #1 mainly shared my concern about Rob being able to cope with four days of full-on parenting.
Friend #2 threw me a curve ball, asking how Lilly would cope. ‘She’ll be fine’, was my instinctive response. ‘Yes, she’ll be physically fine’, friend #2 concurred. ‘But have you considered any potential long-term psychological damage if she really misses you, and Rob cannot handle it?’
Well, no – I hadn’t. Instant mummy guilt on steroids!
I guess balancing your needs with those of your child(ren) is an ongoing mothering dilemma. My take is that it’s absolutely critical for me not to get lost in the process – for MY sake even more than for Lilly’s.
What I mean is that I need time for me for me, and not simply because recharging will make me a better, more refreshed parent. An incidental fringe benefit, no doubt; but never my main motivator.
A friend of mine wrote an excellent article (that I will feature as a guest post later this week). She says
… having changed my/our lives completely round to make sure that our children have a loving home, routine, rhythm and a feeling of security I have to admit (with a huge amount of guilt) that I feel utterly trapped at times.
I can relate. Undoubtedly, life with kids is different, and providing for their needs is just part of being a parent. But you need to ensure the scales don’t tip in their favour altogether. I was so much running on empty at the end of 2012 that I was basically a walking volcano ready to erupt about every 30 seconds.
Maybe it had to get that bad for me to have an entirely guilt-free trip, and to create better balance in 2013! I don’t mind admitting that I thoroughly enjoyed not being a mother for a few days. I don’t mind admitting that I didn’t miss Lilly, although knowing Daddy and her were having a grand time surely made that easier.
Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to coming home. But beyond the first twenty minutes at the airport, when it mostly felt strange not be navigating a buggy, I was loving not having to consider anyone else’s requirements for food, sleep or entertainment.
So I guess balance is the name of the game.
I know that it’s no longer possible to put myself first ALL the time, or even most of the time. Yes, it is about finding joy in the time you spend with your little one. But it’s also about never losing sight of your own needs, dreams and desires, and making sure they are prioritized and nurtured.
It’s about being top of your own pop chart, your own biggest fan.
I can do that. For me, and for the rest of my family, too.
Images: neoncircus.com, Copenhagen images author's own