My daughter was nearly a year old before I
left her overnight for the first time—and I was mostly miserable the entire
night. "You need this," my friends all said. "You'll have fun." But I didn't
really. I mean, it was alright, I guess. But mostly, I just missed my girl.
She's 2.5 now, and that hasn't
really changed. Most nights, I would rather be with her than doing just about
anything else. And while I have managed to start having a bit more fun when I
am away from her, it's still not my favorite thing to do.
Recently, I went on a hiking trip with
friends. It was three nights and two days away from my girl, doing something I used to
love doing in my pre-mom life. It was the longest I had ever been away from
her, and everyone threw out all the same platitudes as before when I was
struggling with whether or not to take this trip. I even had several friends
tell me that they personally need these short vacations away to maintain their
sanity. And I get that. I respect it.
But for me, that need has just never been
I don't need, or even really want, gobs of time away from her in order to feel satisfied with the life I am living.
Still, I went. And I had fun. In fact, it was
kind of invigorating to hike without a 35-pound toddler on my back. I felt
stronger and more energized then I have in a long time, and it was nice to have
adult conversations without toddler interruptions.
But still, I couldn't wait to get back home to
my girl. Back home to my mom life.
I think that was when it hit me: I don't miss
my pre-mom life, because I lived that life to the absolute fullest. I did
everything I wanted to do. I traveled, I went to concerts, I was single and
carefree and jumped into cold bodies of water just to say I had. I lived
without regrets and by the time my daughter came into my life just before my
30th birthday, I was ready for whatever the next season was supposed
I was ready for nights in and missing out on a
few adventures here and there. I was ready to embrace all that mommyhood had to
offer, because I had already fully embraced everything my young and single
twenties had to give. I've done the fly by the seat of my pants thing. And it
was great. But … I don't miss it.
I moved from San Diego to Alaska when I was
25. I've been up here for seven years now, and I still get asked all the time if I
miss it. My answer is always the same: I had a great time living in California.
I had amazing friends, lived on the beach and worked for a fun and popular bar. Life was so good and it was the perfect place to be during that stage of my
life. But no, I don't miss it at all. Because it wouldn't be the perfect place for
this stage of my life, and I was ready to move on to whatever was supposed to
come next by the time I left.
I think the same is true of motherhood for me.
I had a great time in my pre-mom days. But I was ready to move on by the time
my girl came into my life. I was ready for what was next.
That empty nest is going to come back around, likely sooner than I will be ready for it to, and then I will have another season to embrace and enjoy.
Maybe if I had become a mother younger, or if
there were still things I had wanted to do with my child-free youth, I would
feel differently. But as it stands, I'm perfectly happy right now in the mommy zone.
And I don't need, or even really want, gobs of time away from her in order to
feel satisfied with the life I am living. Because I kind of like this season
I'm in right now. And it won't last very long. There is a finite period of time
during which my child is going to want to spend time with me, so why wouldn't
I embrace and love that while it lasts?
There are still plenty of adventures in my
future. Hopefully, she will be tagging along with me for quite a few of those.
But that empty nest is going to come back around, likely sooner than I will be
ready for it to, and then I will have another season to embrace and enjoy.
So for now, I'm going to continue to keep
those nights and trips away from her limited. Because despite what I've been
told, I don't actually think I need it. I don't need to pretend I'm back in my
pre-mom days, not even temporarily. And as liberating as it may have been to
hike without my toddler on my back, it was even more so to come home to her
I'm embracing this season while I'm in it. The next one will be here soon enough.