I have gone on short spurts of outings. Quick lunches, the occasional rushed through dinner. All of them were nice but I was always very concerned about what was happening while I was gone and how long I was taking. I usually came home from my “Mommy outings” drained not refreshed. Then last week I had a true day and night out. I had no idea how badly I had been needing it.
Last week I was able to go out with a dear friend from college for the entire day. I was gone almost 24 hours. She lives on the other side of the state. I drove over in the morning and we went on a Target run with her littles and hung out and chatted during nap time. As soon as her hubby came home we went to IKEA and then out for a late night dinner and drinks.
That may not sound like much to you but it was basically a trip to Walt Disney World for me. I discovered something really important about that time away. It was a chance for me to be just myself. I was puzzling over the feelings I felt on my long drive back home and I realized that it was like taking off a heavy coat you’d worn too long.
I usually think of myself in relation to other people. I’m someone’s mom. I’m someone’s wife. I’m someone’s aunt. Someone’s sister. Someone’s daughter. That day I was still all of those people but I was able to set them down for a moment and just be my own someone.
A nice addition to relaxing into this moment where I got to just be myself was I got to spend that time with someone who knew me before I was a Mom. She knew an easier to explain version of Cabrielle who knew more about who she was within the world than who she was in relation to others. I got to spend the day combining the two versions.
As a Mom I need friends I don’t have to be prefect for. Friends who get it and don’t judge me. The type of friends you never have to say “sorry about the mess” to. The friends who never bat an eye when we are a complete tornado of chaos. Friends who laugh with me when hilarious or insane or gross things happen with the kids and cheer us on when exciting milestones are met.
My Mama escape last week was with just such a friend and it was so relaxing to be with her and not have to put on any show or dress up anything. I could say “this is hard”, “this part sucks”, “I miss…”- all without her taking it wrong and thinking I don’t love my kids with my entire existence. She knows my heart, she knows how amazing my kids are and how much they bless every moment of my life. She also knows this motherhood gig is tough and none of us have a clue what we are doing. She got it. I didn’t have to couch what I said in explanations and disclaimers.
I had no idea how long it had been since I had unclenched and just relaxed until I did it. I did not know I hadn’t really relaxed before. Now that I have felt this feeling it has opened my eyes and made me reassess a lot of things. The people in our lives should give us chances to relax into ourselves and take off the coats of who we are to others. When you find the people you can do that with, keep them close. If you feel yourself having to put in a massive effort to hold up some perfect version of yourself around someone, they may not be your people. They may not be part of your tribe. That’s ok, that doesn’t make the wrong or evil, just means your types of crazy don’t jell. Don’t force it. Just let yourself go and just be with the people who love the real under all the coats you are wearing.