The Night I Took Myself Out On A Date
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past year. The first few months were due to a high-risk pregnancy placing me on bed-rest. Then, I was on official maternity leave. I quickly decided not to go back to my job once my leave was over. Not out of a desire to be a stay-at-home mom. I really never thought that I would ever be one. Sure, I’ve had times in my life where I haven’t had a job, but this is the first time that I don’t have a job and have no current plans to get one.
This decision came out of necessity.
It’s been an adjustment – one that I’m sure I could write a book about. But I want to zoom in on one small aspect of it and how I’m going to make it a little easier on myself.
One of the reasons I’ve become a stay-at-home mom is because my husband travels for work; a week or two every month or two. That’s in addition to the 16-hour workdays. The rest of the family – my three kids – are at points in their lives where they really need at least one parent around and available for them. I decided that I would be that parent.
As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t get breaks, especially with a baby at home all day. There’s always someone who wants me for something or some chore that needs to be done or some call that needs to be made. There’s no break, there’s no space, there’s no alone time.
So when my husband came back from his most recent trip which left me alone with the kids during a particularly difficult week, I had reached my breaking point. I needed space. I needed to be alone. I love my husband and I missed him but I needed to be away from him, too. Staying home wasn’t an option. I needed to get out.
That’s when I told my husband that what I wanted to do more than anything that night was go out for dinner and a movie. At first, he thought I meant with him. To his credit, when I clarified myself for him he took it pretty well and told me to enjoy myself. He was a bit skeptical about my really being able to enjoy myself alone but went along with this seemingly crazy idea of mine anyway. So as soon as I finished feeding the baby and put her in her crib (before she even fell asleep), I left.
I decided to go to a sushi restaurant for dinner, one that was right next to a movie theater. Honestly, for all my bluster I wasn’t sure how I would really feel being out alone. I’d really never done that before. But I went through with it. I got my dinner and ate it at a table by myself. When I was done I walked over to the movie theater, scanned my previously ordered online ticket, and went to the concession stand alone. I got my own popcorn, M&M’s and water. By the time I sat down in the near-empty theater to see my randomly selected, mindless chick flick, I still had 10 minutes to sit and relax before the movie started. I ate my snacks, enjoyed a fun movie and when it was over, I went home.
All in all, I was out for 3 hours. Just 3 hours. Without exaggeration, they were some of the best 3 hours I’ve ever had. I don’t remember the last time I had three completely uninterrupted hours to myself (included while I’m asleep – the baby doesn’t really get the concept of sleeping through the night). I felt great! I hadn’t really expected to feel that way but it was amazing!
Here’s the thing that got to me. When I told people that I took myself out to dinner and a movie, their first reaction was, “Alone?” or “By yourself?” as if it was an unheard-of concept. After I told them how great it was, they would respond with a “Good for you!” That comment felt like they meant that they thought what I was suggesting was odd. But why is that? I mean, is it so unthinkable to be alone for a few hours? To go out somewhere by yourself?
When I decided I wanted to go out, I also had this feeling inside that was telling me that I just wanted to be alone. Alone. Something about that word seems to put people on edge. But when I actually did go, something more than just being alone happened. For the first time in a long time, I was able to think about myself. What I needed at that moment. What I wanted to eat for dinner. Which movie I wanted to see. I was also able to think about the previous week and everything about it that was hard for me. I was able to process some of the things that I had been having a hard time working through. I was able to think about my wants and needs for the future. It’s crazy but I so rarely spend that much time thinking about myself. Not because I don’t care to, it just is the way it is. It is that way for a lot of us.
Things come up, we get busy. This applies to everyone really – working moms, stay-at-home moms, not-yet moms, single women…we all just get so caught up in our busy lives that we barely even recognize the concept of being with just ourselves. Even if we do get to that breaking point where we just have to be alone (and let’s face it, often-times it really does take us getting to a breaking point) we feel guilty about doing something for ourselves instead of one of the thousands of other things that need our attention. Or worse, we feel weird about doing something alone.
Here’s my proposal: Instead of thinking of it as needing ‘alone time,’ we need to change our perspective on it. What this really is is ‘spending time with ourselves.’ Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? Spending time thinking about ourselves, treating ourselves, getting to know who we are right at that moment in time and what that person needs. It’s something we all deserve once in a while. So from now on, if you ever see me sitting in a restaurant or movie theater by myself, please don’t interrupt. I’m on a date. And I plan on seeing a lot more of myself in the future.
I am a married, mother of three, living in Modiin, Israel. I’ve lived in Israel for 16 years. I am a licensed nurse and lactation consultant. I have also run a customer success department at a start-up. Since giving birth to my third child, I’ve been taking some time to be a stay at home mom. I’ve always loved writing and I’d love to take the time I have being at home now to flex my creative muscles!