Have you ever seen Sex and the City 2? Remember the scene where Samantha had a breakdown and locked herself in the closet, after her daughter put her red painted hands on her vintage Valentino skirt??! Well, I don't own an expensive vintage skirt (yet), but I've definitely experienced my share of "Samantha" moments...but without the added benefit of having a nanny. Me and Ayo have been in England for about a month now. She's going through the "I only want mommy" phase. I like to call her a Sour Patch kid; first she's sour, then she's sweet. I literally pray while she's sleeping for a longer nap until I finish my work. I value our time together, but I realize more than ever the importance of alone time -real alone time. Bathroom breaks were once sacred, and my version of "alone" time, but they've been replaced with more "bonding" time, spent with her rushing me so we can play, again. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's an escape.
This past weekend, I had the weekend off. This was a big deal, especially because it never happens. Maybe a night away here or there, but never a real moment to rest. Parenting is a full-time job and I had put in work since she was born. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy parenting, but a break was needed. I was headed to London, alone. Up until last minute, we were going together but a saint by the name of Tony, my father, suggested he watch her while I took care of business. How could I resist?
As a treat, I booked a first-class train ride with Virgin travel. However, to my surprise upon arrival, I learned not only did I book the wrong station, I'd also missed the train by two hours. The UK uses military time, and I had mistakenly gotten the time wrong. This never happened. Ever. However, I purchased another ticket (coach) and kept it moving. I wasn't going to let that minor glitch mess up my trip. But, I won't lie, spending extra pounds when you make "dollars" always hurts, a little. Moving forward, I arrived safely. Fortunately, I have family who lives in London, and they graciously let me stay with them. Reaching the bedroom, I smiled when I saw an empty room. Was this me being un-motherly, or selfish? No. By definition, I am still a new parent. But I've learned I didn't have to make excuses to enjoy some "me" time. As a single mother and grad student, my time is split between studying and changing diapers. I deserved this.
The next day, I took on the sites of the city, with my Oyster card in hand. This was my first time traveling alone. I got to see beyond the posh settings of central London, and ventured through the local areas such as Brixton to visit the markets. I was a pro using the underground station. Personally, I feel like it's easier than the New York transit system. I people watched in Piccadilly Circus. Marveled at the Buckingham Palace. Then walked along the riverbanks in front of Big Ben and the London Eye. Then I stopped. I stood for a few minutes in complete gratitude. I couldn't believe I was doing this...that I had another opportunity to come to this magical place. I had affirmed for months that I was coming, and it had happened. I believed it would.
Headed back towards the house, I reminded myself of the lessons learned:
- Being a mother (parent) can kick your ass, but you don't have to let it beat you up. It's okay to take a BREAK!
- Traveling alone, at least once, is a must. It makes you depend solely on your wits and strengths. It also allows you the ability to go where you want with no time constraints.
- Always, take time to reflect. That moment underneath the London Eye, allowed me to find peace with myself and all was right in the world. It brought me closer to God. I truly understood that being grateful for these experiences was a growing process. I was blessed.