SEPTEMBER 7, 2017
(Spoiler alert: It's a happy ending.)
Picture this…It’s a beautiful sunny day in August. You’re sitting on the patio of a cozy winery in the heart of wine country in Sonoma, CA. You are enjoying a tasting that moves from white wine to rosé to red. Surrounded by 3 of your best friends. The sun is warm but not too hot. You’re chatting happily, everyone sharing their updates on life. And the only place you need to be is the next winery.
My friends, This. Was. Me. A couple of weekends ago. I flew to San Francisco for 3 nights and 4 days. For no reason, other than to just be with some of my favorite people in my favorite places. And it was just as fabulous as I wanted it to be.
BUT YOU HAVE A BABY!?!
Yes, I know some of you may be thinking this thought. Or at least this was the thought the voice in my head wanted to remind me of repeatedly the second I booked the trip. Four whole days away from him? What are you thinking?? Oliver is just 9 months old. He needs you there around the clock. It’s so careless of you to take off like that. You really are not the best mother.
I had booked the flight after my weekly happy hour date with Max and Oliver at the bar at Whole Foods. A winemaker from a well-known winery in Napa was visiting our store and I took that as a sign. I'd been toying with the idea of visiting friends in Cali, and now I knew - I must go. I snapped up a ticket on my remaining United miles that I collected back when I had rock star status when I used to live, work and travel regularly from San Francisco. It seemed like the perfect way to use them. I alerted my friends to save the dates. And boom, it was on the calendar.
The next few weeks were filled with waffling back and forth on whether or not I should really go. It started to feel pretty selfish. I tried to picture leaving Ollie for that long. Worrying that I would waste my time there feeling guilty.
Luckily, Max told me he wouldn’t allow me to cancel my trip and that I needed to just stop thinking about it and go and enjoy it. In addition, Max’s parents very graciously agreed to come help out while I was away. It felt like taking a vacation from work, leaving your out of office alert on and distributing current projects to your team to look after while you are away. (Which, I was never very good at either!)
But I went. I said my good-byes on the Thursday morning and took off for the airport. The long flight out West didn’t faze me at all, I made it part of the vacation. You guys, I got to read a book. A whole book. And read magazines. And listen to podcasts. I’m happy as a clam at airports and on planes, they have always felt like home to me.
When I finally made it to San Francisco, I took a taxi to my friend Pam’s apartment, right in the heart of the Marina neighborhood. And we went out to meet other friends at a fun new bar and restaurant. It was all very surreal. Like I had just been plopped into my old life, where I had been very well-acquainted with the girl’s night out. At this point it was 9:30pm East Coast time, which is basically my bed time in my new life. And I hadn’t even eaten dinner yet! Several hours later, the bar was abuzz with colorful conversation and my group was finishing up some delicious fancy fare and drinks in our claimed corner of sofas. I took it all in and felt so pleased that I had made the trip.
The weekend continued in that spirit and included such luxurious activities as sleeping in past 6am, getting coffee and walking around the Marina, the aforementioned winery visits, seeing my favorite band (Pink Martini) live at Sonoma State, the Fremont Diner for brunch, a midday cocktail at Balboa, dinner on a patio with friends and lots and lots of chat. My flight home was also peaceful and fruitful as I continued to catch up on reading.
I pulled up to my house at midnight on Sunday, four days later. I felt spent. But so grateful. And content.
Oliver woke up earlier than normal on Monday morning, around 5:30am. I didn’t care. I raced up the stairs to see him. And his little face looked surprised to see me for half of a second and then broke into his signature whole-face grin. He did a little squat dance and I scooped him up, holding him close and breathing him in. I’m happy to see him every day, but on this day I just felt extra emotional about him.
And so we jumped right back into our routine - the feedings, the naps, the play time. Life went marching right on. Except I had a little skip in my step. My heart was happy from friend time and my mind was stimulated from city and culture. I felt my energy had been refilled like a gas tank. And all was well with the world. (Not to mention, Max got to spend some quality father-son time and my in-laws loved spending a few days with their grandson. Win. Win. Win.)
I realize now how important it is to allow myself to still have these times, whether it’s an occasional getaway with friends or an hour to myself here or there. I’m a better Mom when I am a whole person. These experiences enhance my parenting and also model for my son how important it is to take care of ourselves, so that we have plenty to give to the other people and commitments in our lives.
It’s such a huge relief that I don’t have to 100% trade in my “old self” for motherhood. It’s just that now I’m like a fabric with new patterns, all of it interwoven to create this new version of me. I honor the parts of myself that still need a girl’s night out, a trip to the city or a few hours to get lost in a really good book. I love how that part sits right next to the new part of me that prepares bottles, purees food, sings nursery rhymes, plays peek-a-boo and loves nothing more than a morning or evening walk around the neighborhood with my husband, baby and dog.
My takeaways from this experience, which can apply to anyone going through a transition in life:
Listen to your intuition and when you are feeling depleted, what do you think you need to fill back up?
Doing something for yourself is not selfish, rather it is a gift to everyone else in your life and to the ways in which you serve the world
Build your team and communicate well with them. Who is here to be your “out of office” support when you need it?
You do not have to let go of everything from your past when you are moving into a new era, there are ways to weave in what you want to keep
I can’t wait to plan my next excursion. I also can’t wait to play with Oliver after his nap.