Three Magical Child-free Days

I have been away from my children for a whole month, and I have a confession to make…  

I’m not anxious for them to come home.

 

I miss them. I missed them.

 

I missed them like crazy when I sat in that quiet hospital room, while my husband slept the sleep that is only available to the drugged.

I cried watching videos of them opening Christmas presents without me.

I sobbed seeing pictures of their sweet smiles on Instagram.

I longed to hold them and hug them.

I missed them. But, I am not anxious for them to return.

 

Being home without our children for the past three days has been magical.

 

Having kids changed me. In fact, I found myself when I had kids. And yet ironically it wasn't because I loved being a mom and realized it was what I always wanted to do. That may be your story but its not mine. I love my children, but I don't love being a mom. I found myself when I became a mom exactly because I didn’t love it. I always thought that being a mom was my dream job - what I was made to do - but then I became a mom and realized that wasn’t the truth at all.

 

Perhaps having two very difficult children didn’t help. My children are beautiful and unique individuals. My life is better because they are in it. Personally I think the whole world is better because they are in it. But, they are difficult.

 

My son spent the first year of his life crying, and so did I. He didn’t sleep, and neither did I. He is active, demanding, and too intelligent for his own good.

 

My daughter, though sweet and gentle of personality, suffers from a severe disability that will effect her for her whole life. At two and a half years old she is still unable to talk, walk, or even sit up on her own.

 

My children are joys to be around, but they have broken me in every possible way. They have broken me and they have remade me. I like the person I am now, because of them, so much better than the person I was before them.

 

For me, part of that reshaping, was admitting and coming to realize who I really am. What roles fit me and what ones do not.

 

I thought that I would be like Cinderella. I thought that motherhood would be the glass slipper that fit so perfectly it carried me off into my happily ever after. But, when I tried on the shoe of motherhood I learned something about my own feet. The shoe didn’t fit very well. But it was only through trying on that mythical glass slipper that I could find other shoes that fit better.

 

Motherhood limits your time and freedom so severely that it forces you to get focused about what it is that really matters to you. It forces you to find some focus about the shoes that do fit, the shoes you do want to wear.

 

It took me a long time to admit that I don’t love being mom. Even writing this I feel a pain of guilt and fear. Perhaps in confessing this I will loose some of my audience. Perhaps you will judge me as I sometimes judge myself. As women we are suppose to love being mothers and if we don’t, well, we should never admit that out loud. So, here I am admitting to you my dark secret. I don’t love being a mom.

 

For an introvert, who longs for deep conversation, being a mom to young kids is hard. For a woman who loves her husband and longs to spend long hours of uninterrupted time with him, being a mom, and constantly having to divide my love, is challenging. For a writer who wants to pour over the written word and create page after page of text, having young kids can be mind sucking. For a control-freak who likes to dictate her own schedule, well...you get the idea.

 

I can remember very clearly what it was like to be childless, galavanting around Europe with the love of my life. From the first day my son was born I could clearly envision the time when he would leave and Bryan and I could again be just the two of us. For me, this was the hardest part of Sage’s diagnosis. When the doctors said that she would never live on her own I was robbed of that future - the future where our children had grown and Bryan and I were again alone together.

 

These past few days have been magical for me because I got again what had been stollen from me - once when Sage was diagnosed and then again when Bryan’s cancer prognosis worsened. I thought that I had lost a future in which Bryan and I could enjoy life alone together, but this weekend I had those moments alone with Bryan returned to me - if only for an instant.

 

It was magic and I’m not ready for it to end, especially because I don’t know when days like this will come again.

 

We will have days without children again soon. Bryan and I already have tickets for our next trip to DC. We leave in just over two weeks for a four day trip. That trip will be filled with blood work, scans, and long discussions with doctors. Sure it will have moments of fun, moments of laughter with friends, but it will not be a dream vacation without children. It will not be like the past three days.

 

Because we need to leave our children so often for doctors appointments and trips to the National Institute of Health, I feel like we have used up all of our free babysitting time. I feel like it would be psychologically damaging to both our children and the people watching them for us to leave them for a weekend away together, or a weekend at home together (which I actually prefer), without a reason. We leave them too often with a reason already.

 

I don’t know when a weekend like this will happen again. And so, I find myself hours before my children’s return, wanting time to slow down, despite the fact that I have often longed to rush to them and sweep them in my arms over the past four weeks and been unable. I miss them, but when they return I will miss this time as well.

 

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany

motherhoodBethany Stedman