Any expert will tell you, the best thing a mom can do to be a better mom is to carve out a little time for herself. Here are some great “me time” activities that work(ed) for me.
- Go to the bathroom. A lot. Take your phone.
- Offer to do the dishes or to empty the dishwasher.
- Take out the garbage and bring tschicks (cigarettes) and your phone.
- Take ninety-minute showers. If you only shower every three or four days, it will be easier to get away with it.
- Say you are going to look for something (e.g. the diapers), then go into your child’s room and just stand there until your partner comes in and asks, “What are you doing?”
- Stand over the sink and eat the rest of your child’s dinner while he or she pulls at your pant leg asking for it back.
- Try to establish that you are the only one in your family who is allowed to go to the post office.
- Sleep whenever your child sleeps. Everyone knows this one, but I suggest WHY stop there? Scream when your baby screams. Walk around pantless when your baby walks around pantless.
- Read! When your baby is finally down for the night, pick up a good book, for example, Understanding Sleep Disorder: A study on Narcolepsy and Apnea. Taking some time to read each night really taught me how to feign narcolepsy when my son now asks me when we can go to an indoor playground again.
- Pray that whenever crystal meth is offered, I hope my child will remember me and how I cut his grapes in half and stick with beer or red wine. Or a soda. May he always be protected and may I make it out alive through his puberty.
Just implementing for or five of these little techniques will prove restorative and give you the energy you need to not drink until midnight. I promise.
Wait, I am not done yet. The reason I wrote this is, that a good friend of mine is pregnant and very scared. She should be. Being a parent can be freaking horrible sometimes. Then the conversation came up if I want another child.
I have one top-notch son with whom I am in love. It is a head-over-heels “first love” kind of thing, because I pay for everything and all we do is hold hands. When he says, “I wish I had a baby brother or sister,” I am stricken with guilt and panic for one second. When he says, “Mom, I want more Lego,” or “I will eat chocolate only from now on!” or “Mom, wipe my butt!” I am less affected.
I thought that raising an only child would be the norm in a big city, but my son is the only child in his class without a sibling. Most kids have at least two. Large families have become a status symbol in Vienna, Austria. For some, four beautiful children named after kings, Greek gods, and pieces of fruit are a way of saying “I can afford a four-bedroom penthouse and pay EU 500,000 in elementary school tuition fees each year. How you living’?”
So, this woman who asked me if I want another child runs a local toy store that sells the kind of beautiful wooden educational toys that kids love. “You want more kids? I have four and it is soooooo awesome!” “Why would I want more kids when I could be here with you having an awkward conversation over a tray of old danishes while my son plays independently with these toys?” “You should have another one. I had my children at thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty-one, and forty-two. It is fine.” Didn’t she see my son playing with a pack of matches in the back of her store? Where did he get those from? And didn’t she see me starting to uncomfortably walk out of the store while trying to leave my son behind (plus matches)?
Long story short: I am getting bits and pieces of my “old” life back. Pieces such as free time from parenting. Things change constantly and he will go through different stages that he and I have to adapt to. My son will be seven this year. There was never a time when I debated the second-baby issue. Not even when I cannot sleep. To hell with everybody who tries to tell me that one child is “no-child”. One child means a huge amount of work and to better be great at time management. Or, maybe I will just wait until I am fifty and give birth to a volleyball. “Merry Christmas from Daniela, Joel, and Wilson,” the card I send to the helicopter moms will say. “Happy Holidays” on the ones I send to my family.
It is okay. I will see myself out.