The golden hour in photography is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day. In medicine, it is the time period after a traumatic injury for optimal medical treatment to prevent death. In motherhood, it is the first skin-to-skin contact with your newborn.
Later in motherhood, it is also the time period when you can use the bathroom without interruption, watch a show that is not kid-friendly, craft without worrying about a child picking up a pin or bead, sit on an Adirondack chair with a cold drink and a book, or just enjoy a quiet moment. This moment may span anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more (if you’re lucky), and can occur throughout the day, once a week, or once a month.
You may still be multi-tasking, but at least you know the children are safe somewhere; that helium balloon of motherhood can be set free for a while until it is time to bring it in again. That hard-to-come-by moment is often stolen in the closet, car, or wherever one may be without any children if your children don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. Sometimes a jackpot is hit when there is an offer from a friend to take the children for a play date or an outing, or you end up an hour of free time before parent-teacher conferences or any adult-only event.
This came with a reminder that while an hour is not much, that period of time is golden; it’s your me-time.
In my years of being a stay-at-home-mom (and eventually when I return to work full time), I am learning that making some time for myself each day is essential to my well-being. While being at home theoretically means I have all the time in the world while the kids are in school, the time slots are filled with laundry, other chores, and volunteer work. Sometimes I yearn for a couple of hours of delightful conversation without a random “mom” or tug of my shirt followed by “I’m hungry.” After dismissal, there is the shuttling between activities. This is why I look forward to monthly Mom’s Night Out gatherings, or holiday gift shows in town; it’s time to bring those back. For many, this is one of the golden hours of motherhood. Of course, even when we meet, our kids make our way into the conversations. It’s all good, though. At least it’s with wine and not whine.
We laugh. We share. We learn from one another.
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(Previous version published here)