The Pressure's Off
Yesterday I went out, by myself, to Target and Starbucks. To Target to search for a new skirt and pair of sandals to wear to an upcoming wedding, and to Starbucks for some quiet reading, coffee, and cake pop time. At least once every two to three weeks I like to go out in public somewhere, anywhere, without my usual six-and-under entourage. So, yes, I regularly pay another person good money so I can drink (lattes) solo. And I don't feel pressure to do much else with this time.
Oh, I used to. I would previously stress over What I Could Accomplish During My Two Hours of Alone Time. I would obsess that if I didn't do something Really Important and Significant it was just a waste of time (and money) and I should feel bad about it.
And it's not just since I've become a mother that I felt this way, I think I've always had this lingering guilt about being productive. Even when much younger and single, if I had a situation come up where I could spend some quality time say, writing, and I blew it, I would feel like I wasted the opportunity and shame on me. Being in airports and traveling come to mind. I flew by myself several times in my single days, and before I left I always had this idea in my head about what I would do while puttering about the airport or during the flight. Usually it involved drafting the first 20,000 words of a novel or something equally unattainable. Then when it didn't happen, I'd feel like a failure.
I feel compelled to add here that if my husband had one of those normal jobs where when someone asks when's he getting home I could say "6:00" or "around dinner" instead of "sometime next month" or "August" I would probably just disappear every other Saturday morning for an hour or two. But this is where we are.
I will also share that in the past I did something similar without paying for a sitter by joining a babysitting co-op. Although that was in my need-to-feel-productive-all-the-time years, so I probably did something super exciting like go to the gynecologist or have a tooth drilled.
Now, I drink coffee. Eat sweets. And blog. Or read a book. Occasionally try on shoes. And I don't stress about it.
I let go of the pressure to do something and just let myself be. I've accepted that it's okay to take time to be alone with my thoughts. I don't have to be executing something of value every waking moment. Wait, maybe being alone with my own thoughts is valuable.