I tell my daughter that I take “timeouts.”
I do this because, in her own way, she understands what mommy needs.
And timeouts aren’t for punishing—not really. They are for learning and growing as human beings.
That 20 minutes that I take in my yoga room when my husband gets home might seem infinitely long to my little daughter—just like her own timeouts seem to her—but, to me, they are essential periods of learning about my day and myself within it.
Because today was wonderful; really, it was. Simultaneously, I need time to process how I feel from it—to let certain things settle into my bones and soft tissues.
I need to process how I stole five minutes of yoga-core time and five minutes on my circa-1980-whatever Nordic Track before I picked up my daughter from pre-school, because my body hurt from a wonky night’s sleep.
I need to let sink in how I asked tiny-her to place her hands on her abdomen and feel her belly go in and out as she breathed, when piecing her train set’s tracks back together got annoying. In short, I need my day to settle into my tissues and into the fiber of my soul—and I need this time alone.
But there is no time alone as a mommy.
No, there is partner pooping and shower-time sing-a-longs and not even one second alone in the car.
And it’s okay; all of it is more than okay: Not only did I sign up to be a mom, but I would register every day all over again. That said, I’ve always needed my alone time.
I used to be a frequent “goes to the movies by herself” girl; I can snuggle myself up to a Netflix film and stove-top made popcorn with the best of them; I can read for hours and hours and hours on end (so much so that, one time, my husband-then-boyfriend wondered if I was okay). I not only like alone time, I crave it like salty foods.
And she runs up to me while I’m writing and says “hi”—quite casually with a mouthful of peanut-butter and jelly—and my “writer zone” is completely erased or, more accurately, non-existent in the first place because I can hear her voice, along with her daddy’s and baby sister’s, in the other room the whole time that I “steal” to work.
Yet, we need this time: mothers need moments to breathe in order to be any good at what we do.
And it’s not because we’re selfish, or care more about ourselves than we do our husband’s day, or because we’re postpartum depressed (although these things, in part, are not entirely fictitious). Instead, it’s because we’re human—and humans need timeouts.
Then my husband comes up to me and tells me that he needs to check the grill, where he’s cooking me steak. He hands me the baby and she smiles instantly; with her eyes asking, “Where have you been these last five minutes, Mommy?”
I breathe in deeply myself, although my hands stay glued to my laptop rather than trickling down towards my abdomen—and I’m glad that I took this timeout; with irritated husband and somewhat sorrowful little girls.
I’m glad because, in these last few moments, I’m reminded of who I am, what I’m capable of, where I’ve transgressed and where I want to head: all the same reasons I give my precious darlings their own timeouts too.
Photo: Flickr/Harsha K R.