Felicitations For September: Dancing How I Feel

Okay, the summer is over. The kids have had a looong vacation. They are full to bursting with ideas for the classic, stupid essay, “What I Did This Summer.” Maybe they have new backpacks and new lunchboxes. They are locked, cocked and ready for a new school year.

Now what about you?

Do you feel that sigh of relief that the kids will be gone and gainfully occupied for at least 6 hours? Damn straight. So I ask again, now what about you?

My family does a thing when we can’t quite find the right words to express what is going on. We “dance how we feel.” It’s really silly and stupid, but that is what I want to do right now. I wish you could see me “dancing how I feel” because mere words can’t express the thrill I get sharing this with you:

I took off and spent a week alone.

You heard me right. I took a week alone.

It started as a whispered desire: “Maybe I will just take a couple days to myself.” This was over a year ago, when Desperate Housewives ended. But I was scared to be alone with my brain. “Maybe I should go to one of those health spas. I think I deserve a treat.” But I couldn’t justify the expense. “Maybe I’ll just take off with a couple of my sisters?” But I never got it together to send out the email.

Anyway, the point is I had been thinking about it for almost a year and a half. Kids get holidays throughout the year; why can’t mothers? So, I finally did it.

I wasn’t sure what would happen if I were so unfettered. Maybe I would wander around aimlessly eating birthday cake and drinking margaritas all day. Maybe my internal predators would go all Jurassic-Park-on-my-ass, and I would be running for my life for seven days. But I just kept thinking, “My girls get time off; why can’t I get some too?”

Full disclosure: I went home to Colorado where my brother and two of my sisters live, so I could—and did—have lovely company almost daily. But there was no driving kids around, no making meals, and no scheduling. I woke up when I wanted. I ate toast with chocolate every morning. I went hiking. I watched seasons 2-4 of Nurse Jackie. I started meditating, (which is another blog). I took a whole day with my two sisters to cruise different thrift shops looking for deals. I bought a bitchin’ ten dollar dress.

But the kernel of the experience was not being responsible FOR ANYONE BUT MYSELF. I wasn’t stealing an hour or an afternoon away. My kids weren’t waiting for me to come home; I didn’t get back to the house with a million things to do and the feeling that I had to make up for taking time to myself. Time was given to me by the bushels—just time and time and time spilling out in front of me endlessly—to do just what I wanted.

Of course this time alone would not have been as sweet had it not been against the back drop of having a wonderful family to come home to. I mean, days off would not be fun if you didn’t have something to take off from.

I know this luxury isn’t possible for many people—that being an out-of-work actor has an element of playing hooky from the real world. But I had to share this with you because I wish I could give it to every mother (or primary care giver); because it is magical; because I forgot that kind of experience could exist, and because it is the ultimate luxury.

Okay, so I am done with my little dance. I hope you enjoyed it. But what I really hope is that during this school year you get to experience a day (or two or three) that is just yours. I know an afternoon or a morning off is a huge treat, but I want you to experience the abundance of more than two or three hours.

If this is already in your repertoire of self care, brava. If it is not something that is possible to do right now, I totally understand. But we try so hard to make sure our kids have wonderful holidays, maybe we could start dreaming of a small retreat for ourselves.

Happy School Year,