Full or Fumes

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.

Fumes, I tell ya!

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…

 

Extra Ordinary.

Today was the best day ever.
It was really that good.

After a much-anticipated 35th birthday celebration dinner cut short by vomit (not mine), and a night woefully short on sleep, my expectations weren’t high.

 

Snooze Cat

Today we did nothing. And a few things.

We puttered.

We played.

We ate.

We avoided the tummy bug we were sure would sweep the 3 members of the family yet unbugged.

My husband broke out the vacuum. I shifted kid clothes. We had pasta for dinner. We wore our PJs far too late into the afternoon (and I am neither going to confirm nor deny whether some of us are still wearing them). We got some of Christmas put away, and didn’t worry about the rest. We read books. We laughed a lot. My husband and son played in the fresh snow in the dark – Pickle coming back inside with a chapped face and blazing ears “Mama, feel this ear! Now Mama, feel this ear!” Plum, feeling better, graced us with toothy grins and some belly laughs at dinner, and invented a new game of “peekaboo” with her brother. Pickle was helpful, sweet and affectionate, often struck by the need to hug and kiss any family member who was in a different room. He woke up from a luxuriously long nap, good-humored and generous and sat to play with Plum, exclaiming unprompted, “I love my sister.”

We had a few firsts, too.  Plum switched from her quick army-style crawl to an all-fours method.  Pickle started referring to me as his “mom” instead of “Mama.”

Everybody napped.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

We were not in a rush to go anywhere. We were together, happily together. We accomplished enough to feel like the day wasn’t wasted, but were able to overlook the long to-do list of weekends – cleaning, straightening, cooking, shopping, going, doing.

Today was extra ordinary, and extraordinary. And when so many days with young children feel harried, half done, challenging and tiring, I am so grateful for this day.

Tomorrow I will go to work, and will worry about money, time, and whether we will get that tummy bug after all. But tonight, I will climb into my warm bed, read a bit more, and go to sleep with a grateful, rested heart, thankful.