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hear me roar.

i used to look at those women in a certain way. put them in a box. the mom box. with an awe kind of wonder, some wow, i couldn't do it-style respect, and, if i'm being truthful, a pinch of sympathy.

it has taken exactly 24 hours to realize that, despite sincere efforts otherwise, i have let myself go a little. not in the way i used to think that would mean (i.e. gaining weight by eating too many chicken nuggets, not working out anymore, not caring whether i'm put together when i leave the house), but i had begun to let myself go. my self. i had began veering just a little from me, a little more toward becoming that woman. and i suppose the lady at Trader Joe's who always stocks my daughter up on smelly stickers may just think of me in that way, too.

you've seen her: the woman with the ponytail and yoga pants, starbucks cup in hand. generally she's wrangling kids at the age where they're capable of sprinting in to traffic, with no sense to stop themselves. she colors her hair and wears mascara, because, let's be honest: she has to at least feel like she's still a woman, right?

and that's what brings me here. yesterday i kissed and hugged my kids about a thousand times, and blew super-loud kisses to them through the windshield as my father-in-law drove david and i to this little hotel in Scottsdale from their home about an hour away. once in our room, it took us about 10 seconds to begin smiling like a 4 year-old at Christmas.

i'll spare you the gush and fast forward to this morning. i woke at 7 to...wait for it...absolutely NOTHING. yee-haw! hear that? nothing. nada. n-o-t-h-i-n-g. i know i'm being repetitive, but i simply don't care. nothing! ha!

anyone with small kids has got to understand the incredible value in that early morning silence. i've been chasing it since emily was born. first, i started taking a quiet, hot bath after her 4am feeding. then it was taking the long way down the back side of Mt. Washington Drive to see the mountains at 6:30a on my way to the office. more recently as our little peanut started waking at 6a, i've been setting my alarm for 5a. seriously? 5? even the dog looks at me like i'm nuts before he goes back to sleep.

alas, i wake, make a cup of coffee, open my computer and get a head start on my day. in theory. some days...the pillow wins.

so if you think the smiles on the photo above were cheesy, you should have seen the toothy grin on my face when i woke to a bed i didn't have to make, a sunny day, and the knowledge that i woke on no one's terms but my own. bliss, people. total. flipping. bliss.

first i went downstairs and picked up breakfast. i brought it upstairs, turned on a totally un-kid-friendly show, and ate on the bed with a hot cup of coffee bedside. after the movie was over and i got caught up on draw-something, i unpacked. there were more heels than flats, more dresses than jeans, more dry-clean-only tops than cotton. i showered and dressed. and it took more than 15 minutes!

[by the way...if i ever run my own business again, i'm hiring a stay-at-home-mom part time. those women can get more done in 15 uninterrupted minutes than a CEO with a staff of assistants.]

i stood in front of the mirror, did all 3 pre-makeup steps, and even took the time to pick out my jewelry. i took the kind of time i used to take before i began waking to a sweet little blonde carrying her blanket and wanting to cuddle with her mommy.

i remembered packing for this particular trip. and the only yoga pants were paired with my razor-back tanks for the long runs i planned on taking. the dresses each have a wrap or button-up sweater, and matching shoes. with few exceptions, they all came straight to the suitcase from hangers. all i had to do was step out of my mom box and pack as though the only things i'd be keeping tabs on all day would be my purse and sunglasses.

what i realized is that, underneath the yoga pants and ponytails, i am still a woman. i may very well be as beautiful as my husband thinks i am. i am strong in ways that have nothing to do with the biceps i'm developing picking up my little linebacker of a son. i am feminine, and can wear soft, flowy clothes, and saunter. in heels. i can flip my hair, take a deep breath, and soak in the sunshine poolside even though a bikini will be no where in my future. and i am ok with that.

i am not Emily's mom, Ethan's mom, or even David's wife. i am Amanda, and have an identity all my own. while i thought i had escaped the mom box, i think i must have let a foot slip in to feel out the water. but just 24 hours into some time alone in an environment just begging me to relax and recharge, i have revived something more valuable: myself.

and give me 3 more days of this? yes please.