Every parent has had visions of escaping it all just for a bit to have some alone time to remember they are people aside from just being parents, to revisit goals that have been pushed aside, and to take an invigorating breath to remind ourselves we’ve got this.
I do get this alone time when the kids are at their dad’s house every-other weekend, but I have a horrible habit of doing nothing more than moping around the house, feeling incomplete and whiny. Note to self: work on that.
I am a writer and want to make money as a writer eventually, so I have a long list of writing projects I haphazardly whittle away at each day before or after my day job, so I decided to go on a weekend camping trip all alone to really focus on those projects and dig in. No more excuses.
At first, I was ecstatic. Silence was all around me. I stretched out in the tent without any elbows or hot breath in my face. Stars seemed to embrace me and whisper, “You’re going to reach all your dreams!” There’s a chance I was drinking red wine, too.
I popped out of my tent at 5:30 a.m. with the birds!
I went for a hike! I wrote for hours and hours straight!
I was plowing through work, uninterrupted by any outbursts of, “Hey, Mama?…Hey, Mama?… Hey, Mama?” Chapters of a book I’m writing were finally getting polished, and the writing came to me easily with my brain clear and on track, and I felt I was getting somewhere instead of merely wishing I could get somewhere but not able to find the time.
The camping trip was going exactly as I hoped it would until I looked up and saw a mama with her kiddo walking to the restroom. His hair was messed up and puffy from sleep, and she looked so tired, she could barely see straight, as she scurried him along to make it to the restroom.
I had to choke back tears as I realized I was looking at what I must look like to others when I go through the daily motions of life with my kids.
My heart missed them, and I wanted my day to look like what that woman’s day was going to look like instead of having it all to myself with only my wants to consider, which was all I wanted in the first place.
After I noticed that woman, I started to realize I was surrounded by families. A dad and his sons were in the site next to mine cooking hot dogs. A family and their puppies were across the way playing catch. Grandparents and their grandkids were giggling on the other side—AGH!!!! Give me my family back!!!!
I wanted to scream that, but instead I made myself a fire and stared into it, not caring that I had single-handedly accomplished more writing in one weekend than I had in the last year on my book.
I’d like to tell you I sucked it up and kept on writing the rest of the weekend, but before the second night I texted my husband to come keep me company because I had had enough of myself. The kiddos were at their dad’s, so seeing them would have to wait.
As I sat in my solo camping chair, one of my best friends and her husband came to pay me a surprise visit, and my good mood returned. The visit was exactly what my sad little spirit needed to remind me the people in my life are as important as the goals I get so fixated on.
I go through life stressed out that I’m being pulled in so many directions and there’s no time for me, but it took camping alone to realize the chaos in my life IS life, and it’s so delicious.
Yes, I could reach my goals so much faster if I could just have more alone time and less pulling of people around me, but the older I get, the more I realize I can’t put so much stress on reaching goals and looking forward that I miss out on what’s right under my nose.
After my friends came to visit, and my husband arrived, I saw the families around me in a different light again. Gone was the jealousy replaced with wisdom. I had the wisdom of knowing I can be content with the state of my current life.
I don’t want my kids to be the only thing that makes me who I am because that’s not fair to me or them, but I don’t think it’s weak to admit they’re the parts of my life that matter most to me right now. I can and will keep working towards personal goals I have, but I can be content with a slower path to my goals while I enjoy today and not let it get devoured with stepping stones to tomorrow.
I’m not sure if that realization is laziness or wisdom, but I’m not sure I care.