“What is your escape?  What is the one thing that you do that makes you feel like you?”

The question loomed over me all month long.  It was the discussion topic for our support group meeting.  In order to learn a little bit more about each other as people (and not just mothers of kids with special needs) we decided we’d share our “escapes”.  The hope was that it would get us all talking about the positives in our lives, and maybe discover that we had some escapes in common.

So all month I thought about it.  What was my escape?

(side note: I got permission from the women who were there to share this.  That support group is my safe haven to share things, and we expect that whatever we talk about there, stays in the room.  It’s our Vegas, baby.  And I’ll protect that confidentiality to the end.)

As we went around the room, the clear winner in the escape category was working, followed by exercising.

Then it was my turn.  What was my escape?

I had none.

“You blog?”, my friend suggested.

Frankly, this was going to be my original response.  It is what I do when I have time to myself and I love writing. It is something that is all mine.  But as I listened to the other women there, I realized it wasn’t really an escape.  It doesn’t take me away from everything else going on here, in fact in many ways it amplifies it.  I’m not “just me” when I’m writing.  I’m still my kids’ mom.

Blogging is sometimes more like free therapy for me.  So all the words and feelings don’t explode out of my head and land on the kids or my husband.

For my friends, work and exercising made them feel like they were accomplishing something.  Setting goals and achieving them.  An expert in something, the “go-to” person when things went wrong.  A time when their brains were switched from “mom” mode.  I remember that.  I used to run an office, manage payroll, plan the schedules for over 20 teachers and still teach at night myself.  Now I’m the mom who drops her kids off at school in her pajamas and forgets to pack lunches and snacks.

I left that night on a search for my escape.

I tried to think what it could be.  Maybe it was running?  This summer I ran in preparation for my first 5K race.  It did get me out of the house alone – just me and my iPod.  But it still didn’t feel like an escape to me. In order for me to actually get out to run, many planets had to align.  My husband had to be home to be with the kids.  I needed to have had a decent night sleep.  I couldn’t go when meltdowns were happening around me.  My running time depended on someone else’s schedule.

In my head, an escape had to be something that happened on MY time.  Not when I felt like everyone else’s needs were taken care of.

I went through it all in my head.  I don’t like to cook.  I’m not crafty.  I can’t sew.  Watching Martha Stewart for more than 5 minutes makes me itchy.

I have tossed around the idea of doing some part time work from home, but the last two times I had that thought I ended up pregnant again.  So you can imagine I’m a bit gun shy at the idea.

Before kids, we did all sorts of things to escape.  Tim and I would spend the weekend camping at the marina and go out on the boat all day.  We’d sit at Barnes & Noble and have coffee and read the Sunday paper.  We’d sit on the couch and do crossword puzzles together.

Even after Gerry was born I still found some time to escape.  He was in daycare three mornings a week, and I would go to Jazzercise or take a walk with the dog, or even grocery shop alone.  Howie went to daycare two mornings a week the summer before Lewis was born, and I used that time to get ready for the new baby.  It was my quiet time to plan as I pleased.

I need my escape to be when everyone else is engaged in their own thing as well.

With that, I realized that my escape time will be coming.  Next September, Lewis will be in preschool two mornings a week, and the other boys will be in school full time.  I’ll have five hours each week that will be mine again.

So I have 10 months to find my escape.  Maybe it will be something I’ve done in the past.  Maybe it will be something new.  I’m open to suggestions.  It’s ok that right now I don’t have that escape.  I know it will come.  I’m looking forward to discovering what that one thing will be for me, something that helps me flip the switch to “Alysia” mode.

In the meantime, I know that in my own house I am the expert.  I am that “go-to” person when things go wrong.  I’m the one setting the goals and it’s my job to help my family reach them.  And it’s ok if, for now, I leave the switch in “mom” mode.

Especially since I can do that in my pajamas.

“I said, ‘I never knew’…
That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.” – Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes