You’ve just filled up your gas tank when you see the sign “Next Gas Station 6 Miles – Last Services for 9,000 Miles”.
Yeah, that’s what parenting is like.
I may be a little slow on the uptake since it took me nearly three years to figure this out: the breaks don’t come when you need them.
You get a breather, but it is at mile 0.25 of the race, not mile 10.
You put some gas in the tank but then have to drive until you are limping home on fumes.
With kidlets, nothing quite happens how or when you need or expect it to.
The other day, I had a day all to myself. (That bold font doesn’t add nearly enough emphasis.) The kidlets were at school and my office was closed. The stars align like that about twice a year. I had big dreams of a relaxing, yet productive day. I planned out my day over and over in my mind – the places I’d go! the things I’d accomplish! the wonderful break it would be!
And it wasn’t a bad day. I took a long shower, got a pedicure, had a nice lunch, wrote some thank you notes that were becoming embarrassingly tardy, caught up on a DVRed episode of Downton while sipping coffee.
But it was kind of like prom. The preparation and anticipation was the best part. The prom itself? Kind of a letdown – just a dance with fancy clothes, with the same people you saw every day. My day was filled with things I would have done anyway, just over the course of a month and not a day.
My day to myself came at a time when I wasn’t desperate for a break. The kids were on the mend from the dreaded winter bugs, folks had been sleeping relatively well, work was busy but manageable, my sniffles had cleared, and the holidays were cleaned up and put away. My parenting mood was more like “I got this, kind of!” rather than, “Help me! I’m drowning!” My tank was ¾ full.
It is a parenting challenge – perhaps a life challenge? – that I haven’t figured out how to manage. The breaks, the respite, the calm, the recharging, rarely come when I need them most. So I don’t feel like I take full advantage, and end up with nothing saved up for the trying days and nights that come so often when raising two very small people, nurturing a marriage, working full-time, managing a household, and not losing myself completely in the process.
I’m not sure how exactly, but I need to work on keeping my tank a little more full. And embrace those breaks more fully when I do get them. Another item for the to-do list…