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Mary Jo Hotzler, Published October 09 2011

Hotzler: Slowing down for a moment

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur, between trying to get this new section off the ground and just the daily grind/blessing of family and life. In the thick of it all last Friday, I did something totally out of character and totally liberating: I took the afternoon off and went to the movies. Alone.

It was one of the best days I’ve had in a while. Why? Because I finally took a few hours out to do something just for me – something I almost never do anymore. Perhaps you can relate.

I went to a chick flick, ate buttery popcorn and sipped Cherry Pepsi, my favorite. I tucked away the guilt of abandoning my work and my kids (I didn’t literally abandon them, of course … I had a sitter) and simply enjoyed myself. Did I mention I was alone?

Oddly enough, I had never been to a movie by myself. I’ve always thought that seemed so lonely and sad. I feel the same about eating alone at a sit-down restaurant. I’ve only done that once, and it was in an airport, so I’m not even sure if that counts.

Turns out, solitude is what’s necessary sometimes.

Fittingly, I saw the movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” – a Sarah Jessica Parker movie I probably couldn’t have paid my husband enough money to see. Precisely why I picked it. What I didn’t realize was that I’d be watching the movie of my life.

The movie is about a workaholic mother of two who is trying desperately to do it all. In the process, something always suffers. And it usually isn’t work.

I’ve been feeling a little this way lately – overextended – which is partly why I decided to take a couple of hours and get away with my boss’s blessing.

I wouldn’t take back the time and energy I put into the launch of this new section. It’s something I’m really proud of. But in the process of getting there, I also let some people down – the ones I care most about: my husband, my kids and myself. That last person was the one I decided to make it up to first.

It’s just like on an airplane when they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. It makes total sense. You won’t be much help to your family if you can’t breathe yourself. Anyway, I decided to catch my own breath first.

My relaxing trip to the movies was followed by an hour of retail therapy. Then I headed home to my sweet boys a little earlier than usual and spent three hours completely and totally present with them, playing, laughing and dancing to our Maroon 5 mix on the iPod. They love “Moves Like Jagger,” and I’m pretty sure they forgot all about how preoccupied Mommy had been recently.

As for my husband, he doesn’t ask for any paybacks. But know this: When it came time on Sunday to decide between football and reruns of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” we watched football. It was the least I could do.

Readers can reach Forum Deputy Editor and SheSays Editor Mary Jo Hotzler at (701) 241-5582.