A year after the birth of my son, I began to miss, sometimes ache for, the free-wheeling lifestyle of my pre-parenting days. I longed for those opportunities to luxuriate over a bestseller, or spontaneously meet with friends at an art opening, or dance the day away at El Rio's Mango.
Gone too, it seemed, were the days of other simple freedoms I easily took for granted: food that didn't grow cold on the table while I was managing a twenty-minute meltdown, routine flossing, scream-free phone calls, and uninterrupted zzzzs.
I remember feeling that by my late thirties, I was still too young to stop having fun. Was this a typical condition of the new mom simply needing to get out more? Or was this just who I am at heart? I decided both were true, and that I needed to do something about it.
I knew that I had to find opportunities to create a more balanced lifestyle. I needed more me-time and to have a regular social and cultural life outside of the home. I knew that if I didn't deal with these needs, burnout would be hovering right around the bend. I wanted to be my best not only for myself, but also for my rapidly developing toddler.
I decided to create a self-care practice, and found no-fee childcare solutions by trading four-hour blocks of time with other families. As a queer, solo parent by choice, I also needed to stay in close connection with my community. Luckily, that's very easy to do in the East Bay. Here are my top ten quintessentially queer self-care tips:
1. Join the Berkeley-based queer solo moms by choice MeetUp group or Our Family Coalition's parent support groups (OurFamily.org).
2. Make a friend-date and live it up with a double-shot mocha latte at dyke-owned Hive Café (Hive-Cafe.com), or partake in a picnic of queer-run food truck grub at Bites off Broadway (BitesoffBroadway.com).
3. Pound it out solo or lift with a personal trainer at the nation's first LGBTQ gym, The Perfect Sidekick (ThePerfectSidekick.com).
4. Break a sweat at Hella Gay at Jack London Square's Brix 581 (HellaGayDanceParty.com).
5. Bend it up with butch yoga (femmes welcome) at Namaste (ILoveNamaste.com).
6. Take a hike along the Redwood Regional Park trail system with Gay and Lesbian Sierrans (GLSHikes.org).
7. Sit with the Alphabet Sangha's LGBTQI/SGL community at the East Bay Meditation Center (EastBayMeditation.org).
8. Book a body-mind tune-up of acupuncture, chiropractic care, or holistic hypnotherapy with an Outstanding LGBTQ Perinatal Wellness Associate (LGBTQPerinatalAssociates.com).
9. Attend the queer open mic night of music, visual art, dance, storytelling, comedy, and poetry at Perch Cafe (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1423338401239034/).
10. Pop in to Oakland Queer Commons' pop-up community and cultural celebration (https://www.facebook.com/oakqc).
These self-care practices help fulfill my need for community connection and offer me a kind of parenthood replenished with pride.