The Day I Stopped Parenting

As a parent who’s also a human being, I’m a big believer in getting help. It takes a village to raise a child, and these days the village wants to get paid for assisting.

With sanity as our most precious parental commodity, I consider this an investment in my mental health.

Recently, however, the help algorithm broke down. The help wasn’t helping enough.

Three hours off here, two hours there, yet still constantly depleted and running on empty, arching my fingers in irritation while doing my best to hold myself back from letting it out on those around me. Resentment built daily as I did things for others that I didn’t want to do.

I knew I needed to up my self care game; the question was how.

“I think I need a night off,” I tell my husband.

I imagine the magical experience of going to sleep without a thought of how early I would rise. Waking up in my own space and just lollying around. Staying within my body and feeding it. Only it. 

I’ve been married for seven years. With a five year old, three year old, and nine month old,  I have never, in all those years, taken a night off.

I guess I didn’t think I could, that my kids would need me to much, or that I didn’t want to enough. 

This time, though, the light shone radiantly towards escape, and I was ready. 

I rent a place and enter it, closing the door for just me.

Every moment feels like a massage.

I stretch my legs- massage.

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I watch Netflix- massage.

I stare out the window- massage.

I laugh and no one hears me. No one asks me anything, ever. One continuous, unending loop of silence and inner drums beating.

My body loosens up, my shoulders lower.

The night is so quiet I am almost afraid.

I go to sleep, untethered yet cozy.

I wake up and munch on candy.

Every breath is a thank you.

As the day goes on and the space within me grows, my desires shift.  I shift in a way that means everything. I want what is mine. I miss my other life. 

I think about my little creatures back home, clamoring with needs and attention, love and emotions overflowing. I fill with an urge to give. I missed that urge. 

Running away from obligations and relationships felt exhilarating, a delicious slice of freedom and bliss.

But running back towards them, with open arms- that, I’m certain, must be the greatest feeling of them all.