I’ve not been the nicest person lately. Or the most generous. Or inspired. I had two nights this past week that ended in tears, as well as one morning that started that way. I was short with the kids, and probably more so with Matt. Everything annoyed me. Nothing encouraged me. Writing seemed like torture, and not just for me, but for anyone reading it. I was ready to just throw in the towel. Lay down in my own muck and just give up. It felt like the only thing I actually could do.
I poured out my unhappiness to my friend Friday morning, and because she is my friend, she offered to take the kids so I could go with Matt to a wedding that night. I was of course excited and relieved at a night away, but up until the moment I actually left to drop the kids off, I was contemplating not going. Getting myself packed up for 24 hours away is a piece of cake. Doing that for 2 small children, who don’t know what they need or want (that sounds like me, actually), means I have to think about everything they possibly could want or need in the next day so that my friend would be prepared. Diapers. Wipes. Popcorn. Hats. Tooth brush. Books. Tylenol. Wash cloths. Socks. Comfort toys. Eggs. Hair detangler. Pacifiers. And a double of everything. The list goes on and on. But in the back of my mind, I knew this was what we needed. What I needed.
10 minutes into our car ride away, we were smiling. Cracking jokes. Remembering why we liked each other. We didn’t have to stop our conversation every 12 seconds to tell Evelyn that yes, that is Theo right next to you. It was Theo yesterday, it is Theo today, and he will be Theo tomorrow. We didn’t have to worry about schedules and leaving at such and such time so they will sleep. We just drove. And it was great.
As we drove along route 58 in rural Clarksville, VA, we commented on each house, trailer home and deserted building that we passed. The setting sun, lack of street lights and vast open spaces made it feel like we were in a scary movie; we made up stories about which houses were the ones where ax murderers and ghosts inhabit. We thought about if we were to be pulled over how the police wouldn’t be able look up our information since it wasn’t likely they had computers out there. As we pulled into the very quite town, passing the Water Treatment Center on one side of the street with the Town Hall on the other, we realized we really did not know what a small town was until then. I think Matt would agree with me when I say that it just isn’t for us. We are not exactly crazy party people, but when not a soul can be seen at 6pm on a Friday night, there’s something to be desired.
Despite the ghost town feel, the wedding was a breath of fresh air. Small, intimate, and among the guests my two friends from NC. Reunion! Both of them are mommies too, so the fact we were all out, in heels and make-up, was reason enough to celebrate. I’ve never been the life of the party. But with the inspiration of the girls, I danced till my feet nearly froze and well after Matt left because he was too embarrassed to be seen next to me. He may or may not have taken video of me, red wine in hand, pulling some moves. I even did a solo when everybody lined up to create an aisle for people to dance down. I must’ve really needed this night out. Or drank too much wine. Whatever the case, it was a blast.
As we left the next morning, another 5 hour stretch in front of us until we reached the kids, I realized that it wasn’t a quarter life crisis I was going through, I didn’t need to see a therapist or take anger management classes; no, the solution was much simpler. I needed to take a step back. I needed to give myself a different point of view. I needed a cocktail. I needed to sleep a little longer than normal. I needed to dance and not care how stupid I looked. I needed to dress up for my husband.
The town of Clarksville looked a lot different in the morning light. Not so scary. Not so boring. It actually was really beautiful. The wide open spaces were inspiring. The houses dotted across the fields begged to tell a story of who lived there and what they did. The huge trees created a canopy of beautiful, bright oranges and reds and yellows to drive under.
I felt refreshed. I was ready to get back to the kids and kiss their chubby little cheeks. Ev told me: “I missed you, too, Mommy!” when we picked her up. Melted my heart. Would I have even been moved by a sentence like that from my 2 year old had I not given myself a chance to be grateful for what I have? Perhaps, but probably not as much as I should’ve been. I realized it’s hard to be inspired or creative or to not go crazy when I never leave the house. When I never carve out time to exercise. When I don’t get a new perspective on something I’ve seen a dozen times from the same angle. I realized inspiration and creativity, for the most part, doesn’t just come to me. I have to work at it. I have to make a conscious effort to get outside of myself and experience life. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to get away every weekend. But I do need to work at making life a little more interesting. Some days that may even mean just taking a different route on our walk, or striking up a conversation with another mom at the park. I have to make it work for my life, right now.
Those 24 hours away? They were needed. Wanted. Enjoyed. But mostly, it was my morning light.