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Reflections from an Airplane Bathroom


By Candace Martin

As I crawl out of the all-consuming first few years of motherhood, I'm finding lately that there might actually be an opportunity for role reinvention. It's a surprising revelation, considering just about a year or two ago, I thought all signs of My Own Life were sent to live in exile for eternity.

Becoming a mom happens with a bang, and becoming balanced again is a slower, more insidious and sometimes less recognizable process. I was sort of oblivious to the leap I took from Mom of Babies to Mom of Kids, until recently when I flew on an airplane with both my children and was surprised that I was able to read half of a chapter of a grown up book before anybody needed anything from me.

I deplaned marveling at the new concept that involved using the aircraft's toilet by myself without cramming two toddlers in with me. Who would ever think I that I would reflect on my time in an airplane urinal so much? It's kind of like comparing getting to go to the grocery store alone to an hour at the spa. Pondering produce can feel like luxuriating in some sort of salt scrub when I have no kids in the cart. Uninterrupted is the new hot stone massage.

Previously, flying with my children meant nursing one while coloring with another while wiping up spills that slid down the tray table and all the while praying for the person next to me and in front of me to stop rolling their eyes.

This last trip was different. A voice spoke to me in my head that sounded much like James Earl Jones' Mufasa speaking to Simba in "The Lion King" when his cub came of age: "It is time." And indeed it is. But what to do with these newfound free and fleeing moments -- besides using them to pee solo?

I have heard about the moms that go through a sort of a rebellion once their kids hit grade school, and although I understand the impulse behind wanting to do a 180 on your own life, I also fear the repercussions. I like a good night out, but I think reclaiming my life through reliving my early 20s would probably not end so well for me. I've had a pretty full pre-kid decade of fun and I'm not really leaning toward going that route. What do I want to start to fill those free, yet also fleeting moments, with? Buying things I don't need and can't afford? Over-lunching with the play group pack? I admit, I could be little more attentive to the tidying of the house, but somehow I don't think Mufasa was speaking to Simba about dusting the coffee table.

So, what is realistic to try and achieve in the few new inches of time that I get and that are seeming to grow longer as each school year progresses?

Although, I don't have baby on the breast anymore, sometimes it is just mere minutes before someone wants a drink, a push on the swing or a "PLAY WITH MEEEEEE!" And quite frankly, I want those things, too. The older they get, the faster time flies and I'm a don't-wanna-miss-a-moment kind of mama. The challenge of the "stop and start" is draining, but giving up on my own journey feels depressing. I'm thinking there has to be another way to look at dipping my toes back into a world that doesn't only revolve around children.

There are things that make me happy and fulfill my purpose. Writing, yes, is one of them. And there is this attempt lately to start my own business. All this Eat, Pray Loving I've been reading lately has me wanting to marry the half-empty ketchup bottles of my life. It's frustrating, though, when one has mustered up enough courage and energy to start a sentence on paper only to have a flow be interrupted by "CAN YOU HELP ME WIPE MY TUSHIE???!!!!!"

I am hopeful though that there is room for everything. I am hopeful so I can remain a centered and happy woman, and I am hopeful that I can inspire the same in my children. I want to be proud of myself and them to be proud of me and themselves. I want to spit in the face of "you can't have it all" and throw gratitude at the notion of tradeoffs. I demand a redefinition of what having it all looks like. And I think we might be seeing one.

With every urge to through myself on my bed in sheer "I have no time to get anything done" frustration, I'm deciding instead to look at these interruptions as glorious and divine interventions. My kids are offering me balance. Maybe the "I SPILLED" or "Play With ME!" is really an opportunity for me to step away from the computer. To give up my idea that I have control over anything and embrace the lucky moments of balance that are being handed to me. And as I try and string together a life of abundance, these manic mommy moments might just be reminders that abundance is already here -- and the balance I am trying so hard to always carve out and create is gently being offered to me.

Candace Martin is a writer and a mother of two. Her two other babies are her blog and her small business.