“I just miss her. I know it’s only been an hour. It’s just I’m used to being with Lily all day.”
I rolled my eyes and tried to hide the smirk growing on my face. Blessed with an ultra-expressive mug, it has always been a challenge to rock a poker face.
Christina was a new Mom, a stay-at-home mom. A highly coveted role that was nearly impossible to keep, especially in Sonoma County, the wine mecca of Northern California (Napa County is okay, but Alexander Valley wines rock my socks).
At the time, I was childless, climbing the corporate ladder, and could often be found at San Francisco day spas getting poked, prodded, or injected with skin rejuvenators.
Trying to mask my annoyance, yet offer her condolence, I responded.
C’mon, Christina, don’t you want out of the house? I haven’t seen you in ages. She’ll be there when you get back. Don’t worry, I’m sure Matt is taking good care of her.”
My friend and I were at a local café taking in a long-awaited brunch that took only three months to come to fruition. Christina’s husband had graciously offered to care for their little one for the day so Christina and I could have exclusive girl talk over garden omelets and mimosas, followed by a scenic ride to Bodega Bay, on the coast.
“I’m sorry, I really wanted to hang out. I just don’t think I can handle a whole afternoon away from her.”
Trying to mask my disappointment, I mouthed okay as I waved our waiter down.
This day stands out significantly in my mind because I clearly remember thinking I lost my close friend to babies. She doesn’t want to hang out anymore. She is so utterly consumed by her baby. We are on two different levels now. All the above thoughts brewed in my head.
I lacked compassion, patience, and understanding. Had I even tried to envision myself in her shoes, I still would have never accurately captured the love, happiness, frustration, and bittersweet feelings of being a new mother, let alone, a stay-at-home mother.
This past Saturday, as I was ushered around from one winery to another with the most fun and amazing group of ladies, I had a flashback to my brunch with Christina. Because, this Saturday, I was Christina.
As I snacked on rosé gummies and deli sandwiches, I thought of what my daughter Violet was eating. She is teething and wants to nurse constantly, and Mommy was far away cruising the Michigan wine country.
Did Daddy make sure to heat up her food for 18 seconds? She doesn’t like it cold. Does Grandma know that Violet only likes the apple juice, not the mixed juice? Is she crying? She likes her butt patted, not her back.
I missed my little girl. I will occasionally complain to friends at times that I barely have me time anymore; no time with girlfriends, a chance to get a pedicure, or time to just sit and read a chapter from my latest book shopping spree. And, here I was finally enjoying me time, exchanging laughs and meaty conversations, and celebrating my friend’s upcoming nuptials, and yet, I was feeling guilty.
On my ride home, I counted down the minutes until I could snuggle my little girl. Though I felt horribly guilty for leaving my eight-month-old with her Daddy for the day, research shows that when you make time for yourself, you “become a better parent, spouse, and a more effective team player at work.”
I’ve learned it is natural for moms to feel guilty when we take time to care for ourselves and restore our energy, even though me time helps us to be more emotionally available to our children.
Along with numerous other studies, a 2012 study, Emotional Relationships Between Mothers and Their Infants, researched jointly by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, showed “emotional availability and sensitive responsiveness are important to the development of parent-child attachment in the early months of life and create strong, healthy parent-child relationships at every stage.”
If it supports your physical and mental health, boosts your personal growth, and nourishes your soul, you can’t throw it to the wayside. Mama, don’t let your inner light diminish.
Me time is important for both you and your child.
As mothers, our emotional states can dictate the moods of our family. If we are frazzled, our children are likely to feel frazzled. If we are less frazzled, our child will also be relaxed. If we are agitated, our husband will feel anxious too. The saying is true, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
The next time your childless friend invites you to brunch, by Jove, mama say yes! Make it work, enjoy yourself! And you, friend sans child, the next time you invite your Mama friend to brunch, remember your friend adores you and values your friendship, but she also has a mini-human at home who constantly pulls at her heartstrings.
Please be compassionate, patient, and understanding. After all, there is a pretty good chance you will be learning to master the mommy role in the near future, too! Don’t worry, mimosas and brunch are still included.