Self-care isn’t just a buzzword, it’s an essential. I don’t think I appreciated what it really meant until having kids. I am able to take long showers on a pretty regular basis, and occasionally I’ll meet a friend for dinner or a drink, but having any extended time alone hasn’t happened since the twins were born.
This past week, due to a convergence of circumstances and work requirements, I found myself alone for 48 glorious hours, including one night alone in a hotel. To the moms out there reading, I’m sure you can immediately appreciate how this was a big deal. Not only did it mean that dad was in charge of the twins on his own for 48 hours, it also meant my babies wouldn’t see me upon waking in the morning for the first time in their lives.
We all survived. Sure, the twins had a little meltdown when I got home, expressing what I assume is their sense of relief, but their time with dad was pretty average, so I’m told. Everyone ate and slept on schedule.
A lot of people asked me if I missed them. Is it bad to say I didn’t? I mean, when their dad sent me update photos, I felt a heart pang. When I caught myself talking about them over dinner I wanted to show off their most recent cute outfit photos. But I didn’t really miss them. 48 hours isn’t really that long, in comparison with the 380 days I have spent mothering.
I posted about being away from the twins on social media and a few moms reached out to let me know how lucky I am to have a partner who is willing and able to solo parent. Not only is he willing and able, he encouraged me to travel and stay away. I’m sure there will be some upcoming “Boys Weekend” that will be the tit-for-tat of the whole situation, and I’m fine with that. Rather than get all preachy about how dads should 100% be able to care for their babies alone, go into a long paragraph about how I suspect in most cases it’s a fear-based reaction (rather than laziness) that stops them from doing so, and encourage moms to absolutely not accept excuses on that front, I’ll talk about another element of solo parenting that I think is worth discussing.
It’s really important for any parent to have a mental health break once in a while. Our inner lives and our relationships with other adults need nurturing. I’m not talking about going golfing every Sunday. I’m not talking about trips to Vegas three times a year. I’m talking about connecting and conversing with one’s own self. I’m thinking about how valuable uninterrupted adult conversations on stimulating topics with great people feel, how those interactions feel deep down in your gut. Bonus points if that conversation is with an old friend you don’t get to see as often as you’d like on account of your new parenting lifestyle.
The hotel room I stayed in had a soaker tub with jets and you can bet your booty I took an hour-long bath. As I laid in the tub with a steaming hot facecloth draped over my forehead, glorious bubbles massaging my lower back, in utter and complete silence, I realized it was the first bath I’ve had since I was in labour.