I took a vacation this summer and I didn’t take my family. Having young children is hard and you start to lose your identity between all the drop offs, pick ups, activities, kids birthday parties, doctors appointments, household chores and juggling a career. Not to mention growing with your partner through all of these changes as well. I needed a break. I needed some respite. I needed to reconnect with me. Who am I? Who have I grown into as I settle into my 30’s? I heard everything from: “How will your husband survive?”, to “You must not breastfeed if you aren’t taking your baby!”, and “You’re leaving your children?!”
Yes, I took a 4 day trip out the country to have some me time. This is the hardest (and most rewarding) time in our lives with young children, being an entrepreneur, a wife, maybe in that
order sometimes… In 10 years when I look back, it will just be a skid mark in my life’s story… but how many of us feel like we are drowning at times? How many of us take the time for self-care? In the last 5 years of my life, I’ve gotten married, moved back into my childhood home, I’ve carried two humans over 40 weeks each time, I’ve had a cesarean, a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), I’ve breastfed a total of 3 years and counting. My body has new curves, my clothes fit differently, my taste in food has only gotten spicier, my circle of friends has shifted and evolved, and who have I become in all of this?
I took a trip to Canada, to the land of nice people. True story, my friend literally got into a “you go first, no you go first” match with a pedestrian who was in the middle of the street, while trying we were waiting to make a right turn! Her husband took their children up to their cabin for the time I was there. Two mothers, with a total of 4 kids under the age of 6, without children or husbands for 4 days…. what do you do?! You go to the movies! You get your nails done! You spend over 2 hours eating at an all you can eat brunch buffet with live jazz music and chat with other adults! You stand in line for almost 2 hours just to get on the elevations at the CN Tower, in Toronto. You go to Niagra falls and eat a fancy dinner, 77 floors above the falls in a revolving dining room, where your waiter is French and you can order escargot, and drink wine. You sleep in. You sleep without having anyone waking you up. You take long showers, and sit on the patio for hours talking, without worry, without judgment, and reconnect with yourself.
One thing doula work has taught me is the art of unbiased support. Imagine if we all lived our lives with non-judgmental mindsets. There would be no more ‘mommy wars”. Instead, when I got on that plane I would have heard: “Good for you taking some time for yourself.”, “Enjoy your vacation!”, and “Send lots of pictures!”
As mothers with young children I want to give you permission to enjoy life, don’t get caught up in the judgment. Take time for you and forget the double standards. Taking a break from all the responsibility is healthy, it’s normal, and we need to do it more often!
When I touched back down in Green Bay I was refreshed. I was reconnected, but who am I kidding– my checked luggage was filled with souvenirs for my kids, 100 oz of pumped breastmilk, and Kinder Eggs. Take time for you, get to know yourself again, and enjoy the chaos that is having young children.
Emily Jacobson is a certified doula and owner of Green Bay Doulas. Her certifications include; Labor Doula, Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, Certified Newborn Care Solutions, and Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist.