As most moms probably know, something strange happens when you get away from your kids for awhile. You are suddenly able to use both hands. You are able to hear yourself think. You are able to talk to- and actually hear- other grownups. You can even wear the same clothes for longer than an hour without having to clean random bodily fluids off of them, which means you can even wear nice clothes. You can enter a building without first mapping out the locations of all available restrooms and elevators for strollers. When I visited that museum, for a few brief hours I got to just be me again.
I know, being a mom is probably making me the best me I can be (don't worry, I'm not going to break into song here) but the noise and chaos that comes with having kids doesn't give you much time to get to know that person you're becoming. By the time the little ones are in bed I'm too inundated with cleaning up messes and too worried about the next day's messes and too tired to think straight enough to be introduced to myself.
But as I walked through the museum and gazed at the incredible works of art from throughout history, a quietness came over me. The clean white walls and the neatly ordered paintings and sculptures brought a peace that I'd forgotten. I could stop and study anything I wished; I could wonder and ponder and read and contemplate and listen to my own thoughts as I did so. I found myself asking wonderfully intelligent and thought-provoking questions, and at the same time I also found myself just letting the colors and the textures wash over me, just taking them in without regard to their greater meaning or context. A part of me awakened from a deep sleep, stretched luxuriously and yawned deeply, inhaling the beauty that is art.
It was a rare opportunity, and when I left I felt renewed and invigorated. I felt I could go back to my daily labor of love feeling just a little bit lighter, remembering that underneath all the spitup, homework, and diapers, I'm still in there, getting better and wiser day by day. I'm hoping that sometime in the near future I'll get to hang out with myself again. Until then, I will simply appreciate the art that is my baby's smile, the music that is my children's laughter, and the incredible beauty that is my life.