I remember when I was fourteen years old and my best friend and I would take the bus to the beach.
We had no responsibilities, no one was looking over our shoulder, and no one even knew where we really were or what time we’d be back.
This was the time of no cell phones, so there was no way for anyone to reach us. The beach was maybe forty-five minutes away, but taking the bus took us closer to two hours.
My friend and I would just sit and talk, uninterrupted by our mothers or siblings. We’d talk about our lives, our dreams, our favorite songs and the boys we liked.
Time flew by as we chattered away — neither of us texting other people or posting on Facebook, just two friends, locked in conversation, knowing we had all day long. We felt free.
Now that I’m an adult, that feeling of freedom seems a little far away, or maybe I’ve forgotten how to get in touch with it.
My life’s in a good place. I have a husband, two teenage sons; we’re fine financially and have no major worries at this time.
But the idea of feeling free seems rather romantic. Being a responsible adult seems to be the antithesis of feeling free, and even more so, when you become a parent.
At this time, you’ll have fleeting moments of freedom, some which you will take advantage of and others you’ll sleep through and be happy you did.
When I gave birth to my first son, as much as I loved him, I felt trapped by my lack of alone time. At night after he was blissfully sleeping in his crib, I would have this wild feeling of freedom.
Knowing that my son was safe, I would feel like I had all the time in the world to read a book, watch television or hang with my husband.
Unfortunately, this perceived carefree feeling would last only a few hours until my son was hungry for his feeding. Then the cacophony of screaming would lead me back to reality.
My second taste of freedom as a new parent came the first time I was able to go to the bathroom by myself. Gone was the baby who had to sit alongside me or the screaming toddler banging at the door as I quickly finished and raced out.
A few years later when my son went to Kindergarten, I had a little more freedom, at least from 8:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon. The more freedom I got, the more I pushed the feeling down because I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic for what was.
As time marched on and my little one became a teenager, I had even more freedom. My once talkative child wanted to spend more time in his room with the door closed. He talked to me at times, but so many other times I was talking to myself as my child was tuning me out with his iPod.
When my son turned sixteen and got his drivers’ license, I couldn’t have been happier for both of us. I was incredibly proud of him for achieving his license on the first try, and I was happy for me to not have to take him to every friend’s house or every Target store.
He could now even drive himself to school. Even though my freedom was growing as his grew, I never saw it that way. Maybe I didn’t want to be free, because being free might mean I was no longer needed.
But truth be told, my son will always need me in some way and neither he nor I were ever really lacking in freedom.
As is happiness, freedom is a state of mind. My son never felt trapped. Of course he wasn’t happy when I said no to some of his requests, but knowing there was someone making decisions for him and keeping him safe was freedom for him.
He knew that he was free to choose his friends, free to play whatever he wanted and free to choose not to eat any foods that I put in front of him.
I was also always free. I chose to quit my job and stay home with my kids; I had the freedom to make that decision. Making that decision was the right one for me and my family and that in itself was freeing.
I still found time to see my girlfriends, I still had date nights with my husband, and I was free to try something new with each new day. I was free to be myself, in any form that took.
Yesterday, my best friend came over with her sixteen year-old daughter, who happens to be my son’s best friend. The two teenagers ran off together, talking non-stop and we didn’t see them for hours.
My friend and I curled up on my couch and started talking. We talked about our lives, our dreams and how much our husbands drive us crazy. We laughed and bitched and time flew by as we chattered away, uninterrupted by our children.
Knowing I had her to talk to, to share my problems with, was that freedom I had forgotten I had.
It’s the special people in our lives that add a familiarity and create a sense of safety and comfort within us.
That safety and comfort allow me to feel content, and feeling content is really what feeling free is all about.
Image credit: helenrobin on Etsy