I needed a break.
The last time I had spent more than a day away from JB was in October 2017, when I went on a 72-hour business trip to Maryland.
Since then, I’ve been in constant “mom mode”: Troubleshooting middle-of-the-night feeding pump error messages, working with JB on his never-ending list of therapy exercises, shuttling JB from one doctor appointment to another, and walking around with a patent-pending mix of dry shampoo and baby food in my hair. (Sephora, call me if you want to start selling this!)
Kendra Adachi of The Lazy Genius Collective, one of my favorite bloggers/podcasters, says, “Self-care is anything that makes you feel more like yourself.”
The truth is, since my shift to staying at home full time with JB, I really haven’t felt much like myself. Don’t get me wrong: I know how important it is for his health and his therapy that I am home with him, and I love spending time with him. But it is exhausting at times.
I know other people are going through far harder things, and that my husband and I are fortunate to have a fantastically involved family to help us in countless ways. But I also knew that, for me, in my situation at this exact moment, I needed to step away for a few days before I lost myself even more.
That’s where A Mother’s Rest came in.
Back in February, someone in a special needs parenting Facebook group I belong to shared a link to A Mother’s Rest. The organization’s mission is “to improve the emotional and physical health of caregivers through proactive, affordable, restorative respite opportunities.” The group works with bed and breakfasts throughout the country to provide low-cost getaways for parents and families who care for loved ones with disabilities or special needs.
I came across the link at the perfect time. I was upset because we had to leave early from a rare date night out because JB pulled out his feeding tube. I felt like I wasn’t meant to ever have a moment to myself again. I knew I better start planning this trip now. I signed up the next morning, before I could talk myself out of it. I selected a May weekend at a picturesque little inn in Maine. It was far enough away I wouldn’t be tempted to drive back and bail out if feeling guilty about being away, but it wasn’t too far that I couldn’t drive the handful of hours home in case of an emergency.
Over the next few months, I had this weekend to look forward to. Whenever I was at my wits’ end, I reminded myself “weekend in Maine, weekend in Maine”.
Honestly, the weekend couldn’t have come at a better time.
We’ve been eyeballs deep in house hunting, along with working with the school systems and JB’s various therapists to start the preschool enrollment process. We also added several new medical specialists to JB’s team, resulting in additional appointments. Basically, it has been chaos.
And I was able to step away from it all (okay, most of it) during my weekend away in early May.
I read. I doodled. I slept. I shopped. I met up with friends. I ate my weight in fried clams. I watched Law & Order: SVU marathons. (If that doesn’t sound relaxing or entertaining to you, I’d argue you aren’t watching the right episodes. May I suggest the greatest SVU episode of ALL TIME?)
Since it was a B&B, I had someone making me breakfast each morning, and asking me if there was anything I needed. The innkeepers – some of the kindest people I’ve ever met – had even set up complimentary massages for us! (Another special-needs mom was also at the inn that weekend.)
I’d love to say my weekend away magically solved everything. That I came back refreshed and revived and never worried about anything else again. That would be a lie, though. Remember, this is real life.
The following week was possibly the most stressed I’ve been in years, thanks to house-related drama. (I’m beginning to wonder if the people on House Hunters aren’t all actually horrible people as I originally thought, but it’s just the process that makes them seem insufferable.) But I genuinely believe the relief from my weekend away made it possible to even attempt putting one foot in front of the other during those emotional few days. I knew there was still a tiny piece of me that was “me” inside, and I needed to remind myself of that as often as necessary.
Simply put: My time away helped me power through when I felt as trapped as a gibbon in a basketball. And if you had watched that SVU episode I mentioned earlier, you would be laughing right now, nodding in agreement with that profound reference. You are welcome.