In college I knew how to relax. In between classes I had no
problem watching Days of Our Lives, taking a nap, or spending hours
But I haven't come close to that feeling of relaxation since I
gave birth to my first daughter 11 years ago.
Believe me, I've tried. I write about it, I talk about it, and
I've made attempts to practice it, but I can no longer touch that
Chalk it up to maturity or a shift in priorities, but whatever
the reason, that old feeling is history.
It's been said that suffering is an inability to accept what is,
and I find I'm often unable to accept that parental relaxation is
nothing like pre-kid relaxation.
This becomes clear in the baby phase when taking an
uninterrupted shower or getting three hours of sleep a night is
Then in the kid phase, having 30 minutes to yourself at the
beginning or end of the day is relaxation.
Then in the teen years, relaxation is about hearing the door
open late at night and knowing everyone is home safe.
Regardless of what stage you're in, relaxation is different. I
have fought hard against this idea; for 11 years I have longed for
that old dream-like relaxation space I used to inhabit.
But it no longer exists. I have filled up those spaces with
The concept of loving people every day has its share of
challenges - there is a reason they call parenting the hardest
job in the world - but I've never questioned its
And I haven't given up on relaxation; it's a priority.
I have to let go of how I think it should be.
Relaxation is listening to music in the car five minutes before
the kids run out of school; it's watching a 30-minute sitcom right
before bed (with an occasional "tuck-me-in" interruption); it's
lounging on the couch while my kids are on an errand with my
I will always romanticize those early years of open time and
space, but I've found peace with my current situation. I'm learning
to appreciate the stolen moments and the quiet times.
They are brief, but they have become an opportunity to reflect
on how real and beautiful life has become.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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