I’m not exactly proud (or ashamed) of this, but my friend Elissa and I used to have bootleg movie marathons. We’d pay for an early matinée and then sneak into two more movies. We’d map out the show times beforehand and spend all day in the theater. We brought snacks and lunch, too. Our motto was walk softly and carry a big purse. It was pretty epic.

Fast forward to today. Most of the time, I love being a stay-at-home/work-part-time mom. I get to play with my daughter, go to the park, the pool, and the movies, and wear comfortable clothes. Sometimes I get a little run down and she watches a tad too much T.V., but that’s life, isn’t it?

But every once in a while- every once in a while– I have one of THOSE days. Those “if I have to change another diaper or slice one more apple, I am going to lose my freaking mind” days. And on those days I start to have thoughts like, “I used to sneak into the movies….I used to know about cool bands….I used to….”

It’s true, there are times when I miss being wild and carefree. But I also know that time travel isn’t the solution to my mommy overload. I don’t really want to be 23 again, I just want an afternoon off. (Or, as Kathleen Regan so eloquently put it, I need a vacation from motherhood.)  

Like, Mama needs her frozen pizza+ Fixer Upper time, ya feel me?

I think that motherhood (like most things in adult life) is an opportunity to learn contentment. It’s easy to look at a childless friend and envy her freedom, but that friend may be taking care of a dying parent or dealing with some other responsibility that is almost too much to bear. It’s natural to wish for the adult conversations that a working mom has, but maybe that mom’s boss is a real jerk and she dreads going to work each day. Plus, I know that there are people looking at me and wishing that they could stay at home and change diapers and slice apples too. If we’re all being honest, EVERY choice has its upsides and drawbacks. We just have to make the choice that’s best for us and try to see it through wholeheartedly.

Andy Bernard, sage of The Office, understood this. In the series finale, he lamented, “I wish there was a way to know that you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

Even though right now I sometimes look back and say, “I used to sneak into the movies….,” one day I’ll look back at this time and say, “I used to chase you around the living room while we laughed wildly. We played hide and seek and did puzzles for hours on end. There was so much joy.” 

Almost any season of life can be the “good old days” if we train ourselves to look for the good. That’s what I’m working on now, to see the beauty in these days while I’m still in them – even when there’s poop under my fingernails and 10 pieces of half-eaten fruit in the fridge. Because this is motherhood, where only the here and now is guaranteed. The good is there. You just have to open your eyes.

Leah Baacke

Leah is a mom, librarian, and blogger living and writing in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. Visit her blog, The Open Book Mama, for her hilarious musings on motherhood, reading recommendations for you and your kids, and more!