Pregnancy

Baby Blues: ‘Me Time’ Isn’t The Mommy Burnout Cure-All I Thought It Would Be

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cat with 3D glasses soda and popcornBaby Blues is a column about raising my daughter in the windstorm of postpartum depression. Though discussing the dark spots of postpartum depression, I also share my successes.

“Do something for yourself, honey,” my husband implored over the phone. “Take a ‘me’ day.”

I sniffled. It was just 10 in the morning, but I was already burned out on work. And one benefit of being my own boss is having the freedom to set my own schedule. “Okay,” I told him. “I will.”

Somewhere in a past life I remember doing things alone. Unusual, artsy, spontaneous things. Most of this delicious alone time took place when I attended college at a gorgeous lakefront campus in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I used to wake up at five in the morning to go running. I wore way too many turtlenecks and spent way too much time thinking about Emerson and Whitman and what it must really have felt like to be Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf. I’d while away hours at a little cafe called Java Vino, drinking fancy beer and listening to live music and playing chess with friends (yes, I had chess friends). For a little while, I even played piano in a local band.

I would not go back to that life, because despite all its whimsy, there was a vast loneliness to it. But at the same time, in retrospect, it was all so visceral and daring. I lived in a run down, Tudor Revival-style apartment on the really, really, really scary side of town, something that would give me a heart attack now. I chose it because it had “character.” Me, I chose it, because it spoke to me.

So when my husband suggested I spend a day doing whatever I wanted, I felt a flurry of excitement — I had permission to do whatever I wanted, to be careless. Shaun suggested I go to the zoo, or the Springfield Nature Center. I had an even more adventurous idea: I should drive through Einstein’s for lunch, and then go see a movie. In a theater. All by myself.

God, writing it out like that sounds so ridiculous. But I felt like Tina Fey‘s character in Date Night, when she admits to her husband that if she could have a day to herself, she wouldn’t do anything crazy: All she really wants is to rent a hotel room and sit in silence drinking a Diet Sprite. Lunch and a movie was my Diet Sprite, my bliss. So what if it was lame? It was for me. I was doing something alone, for me, for the first time in a year and a half!

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