I’ve been writing this post about driving and how I am able to work out my problems best when I am driving across backroads with the radio loud and the windows down.
This isn’t that post.
But it’s closely related to it. Today I had to escape my house. Isn’t that terrible? I honestly felt that if I couldn’t get away for a couple of hours to think in empty space I would quite possibly spend the week screaming at my children and having pointless arguments. I tried to garden, I tried to work on some volunteering projects, I tried to sit with my people in the sunshine. Still I was cranky, irritable, frustrated with the simple fact that they are little and they need me. I was not being a good mom or a good wife. I was not being a good person. I told my sweet husband, who always tries to understand my emotional insanity, that I needed to leave. Though I doubt he was very happy about it, he told me to go. He is endlessly supportive and I am extremely grateful for his care of me. It was something that I didn’t even know I didn’t have until I knew him. Thank God for this man who can hold it all together when I need to run.
So I left. I started the van (mini-vans are not good for your soul when you need open road and peace by the way, but we make do.). As I sit here typing away with my free coffee in the sunshine I can’t help but feel the guilt. Like I am not entitled to this break in my life. I should be able to hold it all together, right? As I think on it, I have to consciously shut down the thoughts of how all of the other moms I know can handle the constant mothering requirements. I know that they can’t really, that everyone has their own limit and we all escape in the way that is most needed to us personally. It takes effort though, to not feel like a failure when I have to get away.
So I typed for an hour or two and I drove, windows down and the heat on (this is Oct. in Minnesota after all), and I felt much more peace. I wondered just what it was that caused me to need to get away and I realized that it has a lot more to do with me than with my people or really anything that they need from me. It is the sameness, the monotony, the lack of personal-mental space. There isn’t time in my every-day for Sunday’s with the Eagles. There isn’t space in my week for getting lost on the way home from picking up Mady. There aren’t hours where I can be self-absorbed. I steal moments, sure, but the days are long.
If you know me, you know that I went against my basic nature and started getting up at 4:30 in the morning this summer. I was/am trying to steal that time back that was lost to me when I began my mothering journey. I needed to regain a piece of myself and I could not figure out how else to do it. It is hard. It is worth it. So, if I’m getting a few hours each week, why the need for escape today you might be asking? Well, the last few days have been lacking that time. First, my kids have been getting up crazy early, as an example the youngest followed me upstairs at 4:33 AM today. I had grown so used to that hour or two each day that the sudden loss of it caused me to be extremely angry. Secondly, my husband has a lot of “extra stuff” going on at work. He’s been working twelve or more hours each day and he comes home tired, mentally spent. I don’t get a break when he comes home, I feel guilty asking him to help with bedtime routines and, though I know he would (and often does) help, I try to leave those few moments at the end of his day to be his.
Another piece of my desire to run is the fading daylight. There is so much less daylight to soak up! While I am still using up all of the sunshine, I can’t fit as much in. Something has to give and it has been the time I was giving to myself. Add to these the return of the Autumnal activity load, the craziness that is our normal, my volunteer commitments and it is easy-ish to see how I could feel completely and totally overwhelmed with my day. While it may not have been rational or realistic for me to think that I deserved a few hours out of the house, it was good for my mental health.
Running away isn’t really a great way of dealing with life’s difficulties, I know. It is how I process though. As I mentioned, I’ve devoted a lot of words to this idea, and I’ll share them soon. I can justify the need to get into a car and drive to myself and I suppose that is really all that matters. I don’t feel like I’m running “away”, after all I’ve always come back. A few hours journey and it’s as if the pressure has lifted with the clouds and I can chase the sunset back home.
I’m a better person when I listen to this urge to drive. Calmer, more patient, less angry, less dramatic even. I am truly fortunate to be able to run out on a Sunday afternoon without warning, I don’t take that for granted. We should all be so lucky as to be able to take care of ourselves this well because of the love of a good man. I hope that each of you who took the time to read my rambling heart today has this kind of love and support. If you don’t, please know it is okay to ask for it, people are often happy to help if you can just give them suggestions as to how.
And now? Now I will head back home as a better person, because I have taken the time to fill myself with just what I need. Loving my people stronger and fiercer than I could have this morning.