In a new viral Facebook post, blogger Bunmi Laditan, who you may remember from her hilarious take on the differences between leaving baby #1 and baby #3, now takes on the topic of "me" time. For those parents who haven't experienced this since Bush was in office, that's when you aren't doing something for your kids, or your partner, but rather for yourself.
As a mom of three, I cherish my rare "me" time. Like Laditan, mine usually comes at night, after every, single, solitary other thing is done, and the kids are asleep.
"Night time is my time," my fellow mom-of-three writes in her post, which had received 21,000 reactions at time of writing. She continues, "While the days are for work, cleaning, and errands, once the last child breathes heavily and steadily in their bed, I come alive in a new way. Silence descends upon my home and I'm free to do whatever I'd like."
For me, that means having a glass of wine, watching Bachelor In Paradise, or just having a conversation with my husband, without being interrupted every 10 seconds. But sometimes, just when I'm about to settle onto the couch in my comfy PJs, remote in hand, I hear it. One of my kids is calling from her room. And my heart sinks.
The same thing happened to Laditan, who recounts about her son in her post, "It wasn't until an hour after I'd tucked everyone in when I heard him wail. I froze and listened. Sometimes he does that in his sleep, but no, he was calling me by the only name he knows me by."
Laditan says she found him "half sitting up, agitated and sweaty." Her son was "whine crying incoherently."
None of her normal tricks to soothe him worked. She writes, "Life has been hectic and different lately, maybe he feels it? Of course he does." Then she admits what many of us would be afraid to, "I didn't want to be here, in his room, battling with the most difficult version of him. I wanted to lie down, read, watch Netflix, or eat something I shouldn't. I deserved it. I only had an hour or so left before I'd fall prey to the sleep that's always behind my eyes. And what if he wakes the others? The only thing worse than one awake child past their bedtime is three in the same predicament."
It's so true! I have spent many nights trying desperately to get one of my children to go back to bed. Because I'm sick of being Mommy. And I just want to be me for a little while, especially since I am well aware that as soon as day breaks, I'm back to being Mommy all over again.
But as Laditan writes, sometimes we don't get to flip our parent switch off just because we feel like it. "My first instinct was to fight to protect what's mine- the sacred night- but if there's one thing I've learned about motherhood it's that some things can't be rushed," she says, adding, "Children feel when you're impatient and so they deliberately, infuriatingly, slow down. They can sense when you're in two places at once and will use every weapon in their arsenal to bring you to the present moment.
"I know nothing would change until I let my agenda float up and away," she concludes. So, she decided to do the best thing for her son, and be present. "I relaxed into the thin rug on the wood floor and surrendered, not to him or his needs, but to what the moment needed of me. I needed to be there and I knew it. There was no escaping this, no convincing, bribing, or threatening my way out of it. The parenting books and experienced grandmas might say different, but I could feel in my bones where I needed to be: here."
Not only did Laditan let go of her to-do list and focus her attention to this moment with her son, she says she learned something from him, too. "People pay good money to learn what children teach for free: how to stop fighting against what is and see it. That doesn't mean you say yes to everything, but to effectively change something, you first have to know it by fully experiencing it no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Sometimes you have to sit."
She ends her post by writing, 'He's finally asleep, for now. With children, 'goodnight' can sometimes mean, 'see you soon' but I feel calm. Whether he wakes up 8 hours from now or in 30 minutes, I'll meet him where he is. After all, that's what coffee is for."
And in that spirit, my own 3-year-old is calling me now. Good thing I have a French press hot and ready for me whenever she "allows" me to come back downstairs.
Has this same thing happened to you?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.