Saturday, I took a vacation day. We had been planning it for weeks and by Friday, I was actually looking forward to it. Usually, I basically dread extended time away from Collin and home, but Friday Collin capped off a week of horrible sleep by refusing to take a nap, leaving me in an extra special state of sleep deprivation. The house was a mess, Collin still wasn't pooping regularly no matter what I did, I was feeling discouraged about his lack of eating progress, and I had been wearing the same pair of sweatpants for at least four days. It was definitely time.
I wish I could say that it was a magical and meaningful day, that I communed with nature and wrote poetry. But after the week I had had, I had not spent a single second planning my time (maybe I'll get to that point later), so I spent most of the day wandering around in various shopping centers. I don't even like to shop. I didn't buy anything awesome and half of what I did buy I'm going to end up taking back. BUT... I didn't think about therapies all day. I didn't think about much of anything and it felt SO. GOOD. I just looked around and tried some things on and watched people. I read a book while I ate lunch and didn't even go see a movie like I had planned because I wasn't particularly interested in anything and I didn't want to be rushed. By late afternoon, though, I found myself walking around Babies R Us brainstorming ideas for helping Collin with his feeding or sitting or reaching and I knew it was time to go home.
As I mentioned, this was not an easy practice for me to institute. I felt selfish and wrong for leaving my family. If I'm honest, I thought for sure that things would go badly astray if I left for long. We had to start very slowly. When Collin was little and I was still pumping, I would just go to the coffee shop on the corner for an hour and read. As he got older (and I got better at being away), I would leave for an afternoon and maybe see a movie or a take a walk. In November, Kyle urged me to take my first ever full day away by myself. I remember him actually closing the door on me when it was time for me to leave. I might have cried a little bit at first (don't judge), but once I got going, I got the hang of things and by the afternoon, I ended up buying a novel and an ice cream cone and stretching out on a blanket at the park. Not too shabby.
I like to end my vacation days with a family date. It feels like a celebration of reuniting. We meet up and go to dinner somewhere and talk about our days. It's like we haven't seen each other in weeks. We're almost giddy to be together again and I could EAT. THEM. UP. Every single time, it's good for me because I see that Collin is perfectly happy and that life goes on just fine when I'm not there, but also because Kyle realizes how hard it is to do what I do every day (the house was still a mess when I got home) and tells me so. Not to mention the fact that I come back filled up and a much better, healthier version of the wife and mother I was that morning.
Here's the preachy part: Listen up, mamas reading this. You can take a break. You must take a break. Even if it doesn't seem possible, it is. Even if you are nursing. Even if you are swamped with chores and work. Even if you have a child with special needs. Even if you have a child with LOTS of special needs. Work up to a day if you have to, but commit to some time away by yourself. You don't realize how much you need it until it's over and you see how much calmer and saner and happier you have become. If you really want to take care of your family, there you go.