For Christmas, my family gave me a trip to visit my brother and his family in Maui. At first, I felt guilt at knowing how very much the children would enjoy it. And then, I was excited beyond words. I had no idea what I was going to do with myself, and realized that I actually did not know what two weeks felt like on my terms. The passage of time when you have children is measured by appointments, meals, chores, practices, lessons, needs, weather, etc. I had no memory of what one week, let alone two, felt like when it was spent on my terms.
This trip has been more of a gift than I could ever have imagined. Maui is a very special place, and I'm not sure that this time would have had the same effect if it were spent elsewhere. I have hiked, biked, slept, read, walked, gone swimming, knit, run, sat and eaten as my body asked. It turns out that my self has been neglected for quite some time now; waiting patiently and quietly for me to return to it. As most mothers know, we tend to lose a bit of what makes us us in the beautiful process of becoming more than we were.
Having children has made me a better version of myself, but I discovered here that every so often I need more than just a day, or even a weekend, to remember what makes me feel good about my own being; my own human-ness. Watching families on the beach here was beautiful...naked children and dogs played together in the waves, and they could just be. There is a general feeling of ease here...ease with ones body, children, life, friends...
The beauty is everywhere you look, and affects every one of the senses. Last night I walked barefoot down the sidewalk after dinner, in the dark. It was warm, and the breeze was sweet and earthy. How often do I allow myself to do that at home? Well, actually, I am frequently outside after dinner doing animal chores in one form or another, but the act reminded me to do it more often. And to pay attention to the necessity of the action in regard to its effect on my soul, rather than its function.
After that respite, that period of self care, I feel as if my capacity for love and the ways in which I show it to others, has changed. I am more patient, flexible, and giving of my love. My tank has been refilled, and I realize now how very empty that tank was. Mothers must take care of themselves and each other. I see only now that occasionally spending time apart from our children and families (especially if you are of the homeschooling crowd!) makes us better parents.
What a gift from those I love, and I am so infinitely grateful for it.