The other day a new friend texted me to invite me to a backyard picnic and sauna get together. I wanted to go instantly, but it was going to be on Saturday, during my weekend with my kids. Just as quickly as my excitement came, that little glimmer of doing something different and new started to go away. When you have 65% of the parenting time, that’s a lot of days you are with the kids. It’s not possible to have the same free weekends as your single-parent friends and it’s really impossible to always have plans align to happen when you don’t need a sitter.
I always struggle with this, whether I should just say no right away because it’s my time with them or try to make it work. I decided to see if my oldest was working (he wasn’t scheduled) and asked him to spend a couple hours with his siblings. Maybe they could go see the new Guardians of the Galaxy. I happily replied to my friend I could go with her to the sauna party.
Knowing I had this planned gave me something to look forward to this week. The kids and I had a great Friday night and all of Saturday together. We hung out at home in our pjs (like much of Minnesota, probably, after a week of rain). We played basketball at the gym before I had to head out. Up until it was time for me to go, I was determined to not let my mom-guilt creep in and steel my joy. By the way, I don’t recommend Googling “mom guilt” because you will get everything- pros and cons, giving in to the mom guilt, how to cure mom guilt, don’t have mom guilt…it’s all there.
I’m a single mom and I’ve decided I get to enjoy life and what comes my way, if I can make it work out with everyone taken care of, because to be honest, fun stuff doesn’t happen very often. And, let’s be real. If I was still married, we’d most likely get a sitter to have a date night. Same-same, right?
Going to the sauna party was as much for me as it was for them. They ate pizza with their big brother and his girlfriend, they went and saw the movie. They adore him, and as he will be graduating next year and going off to college, I know they think getting to do this with teenagers was the coolest thing. Having new experiences is on my constant bucket list because really, going to sauna was the thing I didn’t even know I missed and needed. I want to keep my bucket list open to what may happen.
Relaxing in that heat with good company, smelling smells that bring me back to my childhood, jumping into that freezing cold, refreshing creek, meeting interesting new people in community, laughing in the crowded sauna with sweat dripping everywhere…I haven’t felt so refreshed and cleansed in…I don’t even know how long. Those few hours on a Saturday evening was everything. Mom guilt gone.
As moms, we carry so much responsibility and worry that we are doing things right. Although I’m a single mom who has them the majority of the time, I rarely do things when they are home. It’s all them, all the time. I often miss out on doing things I’d love because they are home and I feel bad about going. Then my weekends without them are empty and well, we can’t wait for the perfect time all the time.
The thing I worry most is that they will think a woman should become martyrs to their children once they become a mom. Taking care of ourselves is not only healthy for them to see and for us to do, but for us to maintain a sense of who we were before we became moms. The woman we were still exists and we can’t forget her. I’m not saying go out partying all the time or to abandon your children, obviously. I’m just saying, whether it’s two hours at the gym every day or a few hours on a Saturday to go shopping without kids, dinner with friends or a few hours to do some other thing, it’s important.
It’s that woman before kids that we know we are that makes us the mom we are today. So do those things, have experiences to talk about. My kids LOVED hearing about my afternoon and I’m pretty sure they want to sauna and jump into a freezing cold creek now, too. I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m perfect for my kids, and that makes me a good mom.