Davis is my girl. More than just my child she is my girl. We do everything together and always have. I’m almost obsessive about the need to hang out with my toddler and make a very determined effort to spend a lot of time doing things together. But what I’ve recently learned is there are times when Mommy The Adult isn’t into Toddler World and she needs a break… and that’s OK.
This is obviously something knew, but up until recently breaks meant a night out if I could squeeze it in. There’s been maybe a half dozen of those since Davis was born (she’ll be three in two weeks.) What I learned the other night is you can get some of that much needed alone time with your kid in the same house – even in the same room … although depending on the age being the same room may lead to being climbed on, jumped over and smashed in the face.
Alone time, also known as Mommy Time, is hard to come by when you have small kids. Add the single parent thing to the mix and you’ve got less time. No one to pawn the kid off on when you need a break. Babysitters need to be found. Money to pay them made and the whole thing becomes quite exhausting.
The other night, I didn’t have any energy to do anything toddler. Burnt out from a busy week at work I felt immense guilt at the fact that my little girl kept wanting my attention but I didn’t have the energy to give it to her. So I hid in my office for an hour watching videos on YouTube. She tried to get my attention and I explained I was doing this and she could do what she was doing in the other room. It worked for a bit and I had some time to unwind.
When it became inevitable that I would have to go in the living room and watch the Bratz Genie Magic for the 99th time I sat for a minute and immediately got restless. I felt my bad mood crawling back under my skin. That’s when my fingernails caught my eye. What’s this? My nails are not spliting back for the first time since Davis was born? And they’re a little long? Well, it’s nail time. A slight hint of excitement came over me as a grabbed my nail polish and file and got ready (it doesn’t take much to please me) and while Davis danced, played and chatted, I gave myself a French manicure.
It felt good to do these things for myself. But it was only a taste and I wanted more. I wanted more time to do things I wanted to do without the toddler distraction. When it came time for bed I read stories, we cuddled and then I firmly told her I was doing yoga and left. Putting on a meditation CD to drain out her constant, “Mama!” I did my practice and it felt good. Damn, did it feel good.
After practice I read, took a bath and read some more. Invigorated I had more energy at night than I’d had in forever. Realizing it was after midnight I got a surge of excitement – I never stay up that late. It was brilliant. I could have went out dancing but then there’s the babysitter thing.
My head hit the pillow and I slept until Davis woke me up to lie in bed with her. Easily falling back to sleep I felt content and it continued the next morning (although Davis did make sure to remind me that she went to bed like a big girl but did cry for me for a bit and I didn’t come.) I had a renewed desire to be in Toddler World and the energy to stay there. Little Angel and I had a great day. She was in a great mood and so was I. More importantly I wanted to play and spend time with my child. That is worth the alone time even more than the mental sanity it produces. If you’re worked to the bone and can’t enjoy your child when they’re young what’s the point?
So I’ve learned you’ve got to know when you need some space and take it. Everyone needs space, even the toddler. It doesn’t have to be anything more than reading a book or being in another room. Seems simple but it evaded me. Perhaps I’m trying to make up for the fact that there’s only one parent, not two, active in her life. I also learned when you have that alone time use it. Going to bed because you’re too tired to take that bath will not have the same results.
Thus… I, Nicole J Sullivan, do solemnly swear to spend time alone every week, to do some things that Mommy really needs to do. Even if it’s just taking a bath in the middle of the night so I’m not disturbed by the toddler. Whatever works because a happy Mommy is a happy child.