There are many definitions that may run through one's head when you hear the word break; spring break, coffee break, leg break. As a mom, I'm pretty sure the first thing you think of is— finally a break. Maybe it's nap time and you finally have a moment to yourself to sit down in silence. Maybe it's the end of the day and the babies are asleep so you collapse on the couch. No one needs to be fed, changed or attended to. A break at last!
These are rare moments in a moms world, especially during the first few years. I remember those days with a newborn and two-year old—days I thought I was doing well if I changed out of my pajamas into yoga pants. Breaks were far and few between. On occasion, I would get both kids down for a nap at the same time. I savored that time (or at least I tried to). It was hard to relax because I often felt compelled to get the hundred of other things I needed to get done now that I had free hands and an hour to myself.
Years later, I now have very independent school-aged children. I am no longer needed as much physically by my children. Now when they come into my arms it's for an after school hug or before bed snuggles. I vividly remember the day my youngest went to kindergarten for the first time. After kissing my kindergartner and my 2nd grader goodbye and wished them good luck on their first day of school, I quietly walked home alone. I held back the tears as I was finally getting the break I had thought I wanted so badly. All I really wanted was to run back to the school, gather my girls and bring them back home with me. The break was no longer filled with a sigh of relief but an unexpected loneliness. The house was empty and quiet. This was something I found blissful on one of those lucky afternoons when both girls were napping. Yet now, I resented it and counted the hours until I could bring the noise and chaos back.
Eventually, I found my way with this new chapter of raising my children. School filled their days and each one brought them closer to the independence we hoped our children would achieve. Seeing them find their way so easily into this new world made me proud as I knew that I helped shape this. It’s bittersweet to see them not need you as much.
Now that we've been in the school age for a couple of years, the meaning of a break has changed again. My hours that the girls are at school are filled with work and the business of running a household. After school time is a jumble of snacks, school work and various activities. There is usually a small window after dinner for family time before they get ready for bed. As always, I still find pleasure in the break as I collapse on the couch after tucking them in.
Now I have a new appreciation for school breaks. Those days that bring us back to the lazy, routine free days at home. I get giddy with excitement as summer break approaches and I know I will get three months with my girls. Carefree days filled with hikes, parks and friends. A break from homework, sack lunches and dance class.
I have found the importance of breaks in our busy lives. Taking time to slow down and go back to those simpler moments. Not rushing from one thing to the next, but stopping to sit down and read one more chapter of the book my 8-year old is perfectly capable of reading on her own. Or not putting the last load of laundry away, but instead taking a break and sitting down with my 6-year old to color—taking the time to marvel at how well she stays in the lines. These are the breaks I search for. I know as they continue to grow and test their wings I will get more and more breaks from them. It's a funny thing—going from longing for those breaks from your babies to wishing you never had a break from them. It reminds me to treasure the now. And to know it's okay to find bliss in a quiet, empty house.
We all deserve a break once in a while.