I just finished reading The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, and it really struck a chord with me. It’s about a 40-something school librarian and mom of 2 teens, whose husband had something of a meltdown a few years ago and left her and the kids to go live in China. She has found herself a job, refinanced their house and figured out how to keep the three of them alive when her husband shows up out of the blue to reconnect with the kids. They reluctantly agree to give his plan a try for a week in the summer; she decides to take advantage of the week off to go to a library conference in New York City and spend a few days catching up with an old friend.
A week turns into the whole summer, so she ends up spending it in New York City, where she starts off with a full makeover courtesy of her magazine editor BFF from college. They refer to it as her “momspringa”, a play on the Amish tradition of Rumspringa. She picks up a new routine… eats in cafes while she reads or people watches, works out regularly, starts dating again. She ends up learning a lot that summer, both about what her family needs from her as well as what she needs for herself and from her personal relationships. And as I saw how she found herself, it made me start to think…
When our kids are little, we give them so much of our time and energy, that we tend to lose sight of what makes us happy and don’t always do a great job of maintaining our other relationships. Between working and parenting, I often felt like I didn’t have 5 minutes to myself when the kids were little – and if I did I was too tired to DO anything! Once our kids get a bit older and don’t need our constant attention, I think we all deserve a bit of a “momspringa”!
Even though I’m not going to go live in another city away from my family for the summer, I have been focusing on building new habits and finding activities that are just for me. Some local friends formed a book club which I have been attending. I started taking yoga classes in the spring. I’m going camping with a friend this weekend. Uncle Grouchy and I are taking a solo trip this summer – he’ll be working part of the time so I will be exploring a new city on my own.
Hopefully, in finding activities that make me happy, I will also be better equipped to give more to my family when they need me. Because even though I am finding I really enjoy doing my own thing sometimes, I love spending time with my people (and puppy dog) even more.
And apparently I’m not the only one…who knew?