My husband and I had our first getaway since having our third child who’s now one. It was a long time coming and boy, did we need it. A third kid during a pandemic year and we needed alone time desperately.
We arrived at our destination and immediately I found myself anxious. What do we do? Where do we go? What’s the plan?
I always need a plan. The last seven years (since I became a mother) have been structured and my life has revolved around routine: naps, bedtimes, meals, school. There’s always a plan. My kids behave better when they know what’s coming next. We plan our days together and plans make everything easier in our world.
To get away with no plans made me feel unmoored, a ship bobbing on a rocky sea. I felt guilty for leaving my kids. I felt frustrated because I knew I was supposed to be relaxing and worse, that I was “allowed” to relax. But I didn’t know how. I was overwhelmed trying to wrap my head around the lack of structure for our time away. How do moms who never relax finally relax?
I took deep breaths. The anxiety remained. The feeling that I needed to be doing something prevailed any conscious attempts to chill out. I closed my eyes, reminding myself I deserved this time alone. The anxiety remained.
Saturday we had massages booked, the only planned item on our weekend getaway. My massage was the first I’ve ever had where I didn’t chat with my RMT. I’ve always felt awkward in silence and usually let my curiosity get the best of me and engage in conversation. This time, I said maybe ten words. I told myself solitude was what I needed and I didn’t have to talk. She respected my need for relaxation and gave me the best massage of my life. I genuinely felt like she was loving my body. She massaged me head to foot and at one point, I started to feel guilty for it! I almost said, “You can stop now. You don’t have to do this anymore.” WTF?!
Maybe it’s being a mom or maybe it’s being a woman (or both!) but it felt like it was all too much: too much indulgence. Too much time alone. Too much pampering. Too much, too much, too much.
Where did women go wrong that we think this way? At what point did we download the “I’m not allowed to feel X, Y AND Z?” Is it cultural? Societal? Generational?
It was on that massage table after thinking of telling her to stop that I gave myself a serious imaginary face slap followed by a silent conversation. I pretended I was talking to myself as if I were my own best friend: “Girl, you are 100% allowed to be here. You deserve a weekend away after a year of insanity with a pandemic and three kids. You work hard. You never get away. You and your husband need this. You need this. Give yourself the opportunity to finally miss your kids. Now shut the f*ck up and enjoy every second of this. Savour. Luxuriate. Relish. Rest. Relax. Sigh. Breath. Exhale. Loosen. Relinquish. Soothe. Soften. Be.”
That pep talk was my permission slip to fully be present without guilt or shame or frustration. It was my permission slip to accept my worth and honour myself. It was my permission slip to see myself through another lens and recognize my limitations. I can’t do it all all day every day. I need to surrender. Surrendering can look like a bubble bath and a good cry. It can also look like a weekend away with your partner.
If you feel anything like I did, let this be your permission slip. The one you think you need to surrender to your own needs. This is your pep talk that you deserve whatever it is you want and need to feel and live your best. This is your best friend telling you you are worthy of alone time, of investing in your well-being, of escaping your everyday if that’s what you need. If you’re a mom, you’re allowed to want to leave your kids for a few days. If you’re a womxn, you’re allowed to relax. If you’re a dad, you’re allowed to be frustrated with your family. If you’re a mxn, you’re allowed to rest.
Life’s too short to follow all the rules and routines all the time. Take the trip. Enjoy the massage. Eat the food. Breathe the air. Give yourself the permission to indulge. You probably deserve it.