Last month, I boarded a Delta flight with non-stop travel to Nashville, TN to attend a creative conference. I had three travel companions – my husband and two of our friends. We had three whole days to be inspired by musicians, writers, photographers and filmmakers.
I packed everything I needed for a few days in a carry-on suitcase, and for the first time in years, I didn’t pack children’s Ibuprofen, lots of toddler-sized Ninja Turtle underwear and individual plastic baggies filled with Goldfish, Craisins and a couple gummy bears – one bag for each kid on a road trip.
I’d been feeling burnt out, run down and overwhelmed. Life was fun (hosting my daughter’s third birthday party) and exciting (watching my son start Kindergarten), but deep down I knew I needed room to breathe. Maybe most importantly, I realized I needed a moment to grow in other parts of who I am, not just the mom part.
Traveling south for a few days to this conference with this group of people provided just the opportunity. The four of us slept in cozy hotel beds, sipped on creamy drinks from coffee shops recommended by locals, ate spicy fried chicken (spicy for my Midwestern tastebuds) way too late at night, and made memories we’ll still be talking about when our kids are all grown up. My husband and I talked without interruption for longer than the usual few minutes we typically get while the kids are in the tub.
And at the conference, I let the artists’ melodies, words, images and stories soak deep into my soul and move me. They challenged me. And they inspired me to keep growing creatively.
Just when I was getting used to not having any distractions or interruptions from my kids, and my mind was filling with ideas, my phone buzzed and this photo appeared from my parents who were babysitting the kids:
I’ll be honest. I didn’t think… I miss them so much – I want to go home. My thoughts went like this… I miss them, but look at how much fun they’re having with Grandma and Grandpa – I don’t need to rush home.
I love my kids with everything I have, and many nights after they are (finally) asleep, I can’t physically get myself to walk away from their bedside because I want to look at them all night long, smell their faces and hold their hands that are clutching their favorite stuffed animals. But I wasn’t ready to go home. I wanted more time with my husband. With our friends. With my thoughts, dreams and ideas. The most freeing part was that I didn’t feel guilty. At all. Because I knew I’d be a better mom for taking some time to breathe – and grow, too.
It’s not realistic for my husband and me to take trips all the time, so I’m making a point to find other ways to breathe in my own city. Lately, it’s been finding new coffee shops, turning on some music and writing ideas for projects I’d love to someday say I had enough guts to try. How do you find time to grow in your life?