An outlet. An outlet for frustration, exhaustion, stress and yes sometimes anger. Mama needs an outlet. Sometimes that outlet comes in the form of a few stolen minutes with a book (which does not rhyme or have pictures), a television show (with no songs or matching games) or an uninterrupted phone call (not with the nurse from the pediatrician’s office describing in great detail the color of your child’s snot). The thing is we don’t have enough of them because we spend so much time with the f’n kids- which seemed like a great idea at one point…
I am a sponge, absorbing all the fears, anxieties and concerns my children have. I am an outlet for their worries: Who will I sit with at lunch? Where does the library book go? What if there is a fire alarm? Will Emma invite me to her birthday party? I lost my Croc. Harry told me there are tiny bugs on my toothbrush. Julie went home today because she had an itchy head. Oh dear god. All these worries are unloaded on Mama. And in turn, I make their fears go away, all the while soaking in the worries and carrying them now as my own.
And they are heavy.
In addition to the concerns they have, there are more: Do I have enough gas to make it to the gas station? And what if I run out of gas? Do we all walk down the road together? What do I carry the gas back to the car with? Do I have my credit card? Did that bill get mailed out on time? When is that conference for Cub? Crap, I forgot cat food. How are we going to retire before we are 80? Is the fucking government still shut down? These are the day-to-day thoughts that run wild, flitting from one concern to the next.
And they are heavy.
On top of home concerns, there’s a butt-load of work anxiety too: When is that deadline? Can I rely on her to have that to me on time? Can I really refrain from screaming at that meeting? What is my password again? No, I don’t give a shit about how your dog woke you up last night or the cute thing he does when you walk in the door. I hope I am the only one who can smell my armpits right now… The work worry compounds the home worry and the kid worry…
And it’s heavy. Break-your-back-heavy.
And it’s okay. It’s normal. I know this now. I have accepted worry as a part of my life that will always be there. Lurking. As I would sit in the dark, nursing my babe, new to Mamahood, I would run through worse-case scenarios. What happens if I drop him? What if when I am in the shower, the cat smother’s him? Is that real? What happens if I wake up in the morning and find that someone has taken my baby? Where would I look? Thank god I turned off Lifetime and Dateline. I spent so much time letting in all of this stuff. And that’s just what it is, right? Stuff. It’s taking up space in my already cloudy mind. Taking up so much space that sometimes, I don’t have enough time to let in the good stuff. The stuff I should be focusing on.
Mama needs an outlet. I found that in running. This weekend, I finished my first 5K. And it felt awesome. I trained for it, planned for it and did it. All for me. For the first time in my career as a Mama, I did something for myself. I ran in the evenings, while husband put the kids to bed (added bonus), I ran on my lunch break at work (yes, my armpits were totally smelly), I ran on the weekends at 7:00 in the morning. I ran in the rain. I ran for me. This was my outlet.
Find your outlet Mamas. Let out all that you let in. Unload the worry you carry for your kids, your homes, your husbands, your jobs. Let. That. Shit. Out. Because then you can breathe again. It has taken me eight years to find my outlet- far, far too long. It was a disservice to my children and myself. I could have been a better Mama. I should have focused on the good stuff. I am making up for it now. I have my outlet and I am not going to ignore the deep necessity to have something of my own. It’s not selfish or greedy. It’s enriching and empowering. Find that outlet. Even if it’s wine.