Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

 

My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

 

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Just a Tiny Bit Magic

He thumps quickly into the bedroom, breathless and scared.

“Mom, I had a scary dream,” he says, voice shaky.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.  What was your dream about?”

“There was a bad man with white eyes who made me go to jail,” he says, crawling up into my bed and into my arms.

“That sounds very scary.  But you’re safe.  No one is going to take you to jail. You’re safe,” I repeat.

He sighs, his body relaxes, but his heart still pounds.  We snuggle in the pre-dawn light. I can just hear the birds starting to sing.  After a quiet few moments I ask, “Are you ready to go back in your bed?”  He nods.

“Will you carry me?” he asks, voice low.  It is a rare request.

“Of course,” I say as I pick him up and he wraps his thin, strong, spidery limbs around me.

I place him in bed, pull the covers over him, kiss his head and return to my bed.

Three minutes later I hear his footsteps again.

“Mom, I can’t get the pictures out of my head, can you erase them?”

I nod.

He climbs into my bed, and I reach up to rub the back of his head.  I brush his hair from his eyes, and massage his scalp, mumbling as I go, “Yes… got it… right there… this should work.”  This is the nightmare erasing ritual I created a few years ago, based on an improvisational parenting moment (aren’t they all?), based on an idea I had given my little sister post-nightmare, 25 years ago.  It is perhaps a bit dishonest, in the same vein as kissing away the hurt.  But it is a version of the mother/child pact that has probably existed as long as there have been mothers and children.  Moms make things better.

Someday, he will understand that I don’t have the power to erase anything.  That I can’t really fix very much, that I’m not even “just a tiny bit magic” like he thinks I am now.  He will realize that the world can be big, and mean and complicated.  Perhaps he’s started to figure this out already.

But tonight, in the dark, I am his mom, and I have the ability to fix it.  I can heal, I can help, I can calm.  And I can make the bad dreams go away.  I do not take that loving trust lightly.

“That’s better,” he whispers.  And this time, we hold hands as I walk him back to his room and warm bed.

You Get What You Need

I want a cup of tea.

Not herbal. The real stuff. With milk and sugar.

And I want someone to make me popovers.

Which I will eat warm with a little butter and cinnamon sugar.

 

I want someone to wash my duvet cover and then put it back on my comforter. Because if we’re honest with each other, that is a four-person job.

 

I want a week to declutter, shuffle and reshuffle, purge (stuff, not vomit – though both usually make you feel better), think about writing something, nap.

 

I want dinner to be done, meals planned. But really, I want to do that stuff myself.

I want a bedside clock for my husband that isn’t the brightest clock on the planet.

I want the socks paired.

Oh the socks.

 

I want not to worry about the four RSVPs, camps, birthday party to plan.

I want to be grateful that I have parties, camps, birthday parties to worry about.

I want new work shoes that I don’t have to break in.

I want to use the hours between 8:30pm and 10:30pm wisely at least once a week.

I want to figure out how on earth to spend more time being and less time doing.

 

I want to cook every day. Walk every day. Sleep more. Pick up less. Read to my kids more. Explore more. Love more. Give more.  Fight more for the things I think are worth fighting for. And sit on a blanket on the grass in the sun.

 

I want to spend more time doing silly and creative things, and less time wondering what could have possibly spilled on the floor to make it that sticky.  I want more time with my kids. I want more time with my husband. I want more time by myself.

I want more time having grown-up conversations. With wine. I want more music in my house. I want less dust. I want my kids to eat less yogurt.

 

I want more dancing in my life.

 

And I want the thank you notes to write themselves.

 

Middle Hours

middle

My middle. My girl. Fierce, wide-eyed, brave. With your loud, true laugh and a run that looks like dancing, skipping, rushing. Like your feet can’t keep up.

You’ve never loved hugs. They don’t suit you in the daylight.

But at night, when the house is sleeping, you crawl into my bed, pulling the covers over you and my arms around you. Placing my arms where you would like them. Silently asking to be held and showing me how. Nestled into my chest. Sighing.

And there you stay, for five minutes or forty-five. Quiet. Awake. Close. Until I ask gently if you are ready, ready to go back to your bed. Sometimes you need more time. Sometimes you whisper “yes” and sneak with me back into the room where your brother sleeps so deeply. And I cover you up, whisper “I love you” and watch as you smile and close your eyes.

My middle, my center.

How quickly we forget…

A woman I know – a brand new mom – reached out on Facebook the other day to mention how much her world had been rocked by the arrival of her son.  She mentioned this without a positive or negative spin.  There was no whining or wonder, just a mom noting how much her life had changed and how much hard work parenting a newborn is.

Then came the responses. There were so many women telling her to enjoy her baby! Cherish these moments! Change is good! He is adorable! Welcome to your new normal!  Your life has been changed for the better! It is a love you’ve never known! Welcome to MY world – now you get it! You’ll miss these days when they’re gone!

Blarghggghhlll, these posts gave me reflux.

How do we forget so quickly?

Why does “We’ve done it, so can you.” sound so dismissive rather than supportive?

The subtext of so many of these types of comments seems unkind and unsupportive:

Enjoy your baby! (Stop whining. We’ve all been there.)

Cherish these moments! (Stop whining. Why dwell on the bad stuff?)

Change is good! (Stop whining. What did you expect?)

How do we forget that the newborn “new normal” is occasionally terrifying, always exhausting, and can throw a person completely off kilter, no matter how much they love the little milky, loose-skinned, froggy-legged baby asleep on their chest?

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

I think my poet friend’s response was best “You are doing it! And you can do it! ❤ ❤ ❤ No subtext.  Just support and love from another new mom who isn’t so far past that newborn world-rocking that she forgets what it is like.

Because it is so hard – it is bigger, more all-encompassing than that even.  And you just do it.  You get through the days, you get through the nights. You have good moments, bad ones, lots of tired ones.  You call in your village if you have one.  Or you call your village if they are far away.  Or you call your doctor.  You accept help, pay for it, ask for it, or struggle through without it.  You do it.  You just do.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll try my darnedest not to forget the feelings, the exhaustion, the crazy way the universe shifted completely when Pickle was born.  And I promise my friends that I’ll never demand that they cherish their baby and enjoy every damn moment.  I’ll just love them, remind them of their own strength, hold them up when they need me to and bring dinner when possible.

Resolutions 2013 Revisited

Time for the yearly check-in to see how I am doing with those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.  Remember, I set the bar low this year – and good thing I did.

1. No face or neck tattoos. Not even temporary ones.

SUCCESS!

2. Avoid Diet Coke, monkfish liver and Pitbull concerts.

SUCCESS! Though I admit, I’d probably have a lot of fun at a Pitbull concert.

3. Learn to play an instrument (maracas, kazoo and tambourine count).

FAILURE.  Though we did buy a piano.  Which doesn’t make too much sense, since none of us know how to play.

4. Shower most days.

SUCCESS!  Except some Sundays, but that doesn’t really count.

5. Read one book, and see one movie in a theater.

SUCCESS!  I read the very long 11/23/63 as well as some others, and I saw Silver Linings Playbook in the theater.

6. Figure out how to listen to my podcasts in my car.

FAILURE.  But I’m giving myself a pass, since my house was broken into and my iPod (among other things) was stolen. The good news?  The police found the perps and all of my stuff.  The bad news?  They still have it in evidence.

Crime scene, dusted for fingerprints.

Crime scene, dusted for fingerprints.

7. Avoid reality shows about the Amish, and/or large tumors.

SUCCESS!  I’ve actually avoided most TV (except for Sesame Street and the ever-annoying Caillou), and most reality shows.  I have seen the entire first season of Orange is the New Black (love!) and I’m working on House of Cards now.  I call that a TV win.

8. Sleep. At least some.

SUCCESS! Kind of! We are in that magical place where both kids nap at the same time.  So that means Sunday naps for me. My kids are still up a bit, but that is slowly improving, and I’m up a bit (more on that later), but I’m still going to chalk this one up as a win.

9. Remember every family member’s name, every day.

SUCCESS!  We even lost and then added kitty family members. And I still remembered everyone’s name.

10. Organize the hall closet by April.

SUCCESS!  Done!  Twice this year!  Why this teeny closet get crammed with weird junk I don’t know.

Things to work on for the remainder of 2013 include: more time with friends, better breakfasts, and less clutter.

What are you working on?

 

Bedtime. Please.

Bedtime for Pickle.  We’re trying to rein it back, since it keeps getting longer and longer.  It is a long-ish routine to start with, but really, it should be simple enough: pajamas, TV show, pull-up, teeth, 2 books, 2 songs, bed.  How long can that possibly take?

Forever.  That’s how long.

Zzzzzzzzzz

My sister, amazed by his creativity and persistence, encouraged me to write down Pickle’s stall tactics/questions/pre-bed needs wants and desires.  So here is a (non-exhaustive!) list.  Yes, these are all real.  And yes, this is why bedtime takes forever.

  1. I have to pee.
  2. I have to poop.
  3. I want you to come sit with me while I poop.  So we can chat.  No I’m not done yet.
  4. I don’t want to wear overnight undies (aka pull-ups).
  5. My overnight undies itch.
  6. My overnight undies are too hot.
  7. My overnight undies hurt me.
  8. These pajamas are too hot.
  9. I want to take my pants off.
  10. These pajamas are too cold.
  11. I need to floss because I have yuckies on my teeth.
  12. I need to shower because I have so many yuckies. I didn’t wash all of my parts in the bath earlier tonight.
  13. I have to wash my hands.
  14. My hands hurt.
  15. My belly hurts. It feels like boo-boos.
  16. I need a “belly fixer” (Tums).
  17. I want to do “belly fixers” (a completely made-up placebo I came up with that consists of vaguely yoga-ish poses that will make belly ailments go away).
  18. I have to throw up.
  19. I have to pet the cat. I love her.
  20. I want the cat in my room.
  21. I want the cat on my bed.
  22. The cat licked my head. I want the cat off of my bed.
  23. I want the cat out of my room.
  24. I’m thirsty but I don’t want water.  I want milk, and then I want to brush my teeth again.
  25. I’m hungry.
  26. I want to do three more flips on your bed.
  27. I just need to sit on this large pile of clothes and pretend it is a horse.
  28. I want the light on in my room.
  29. I want the light off in your room.
  30. I want to read more books by myself.
  31. I do not like any of the 60 books in my room.
  32. I want you to read me more books.
  33. I want the light off.
  34. I want the curtains open.
  35. I want the curtains closed.
  36. I want the curtains open again, but just a little bit.
  37. I want my door closed.
  38. I want my door closed, but not all the way.
  39. I just need to try to tie the legs of my pajamas in a knot.
  40. I’m a little sad.
  41. I want you to check my room for lions and bears.
  42. I have to pee.
  43. I need an extra cuddle from you.
  44. I need an extra cuddle from Dad.
  45. I want to talk about things.
  46. I want to tell you something.
  47. I have a question.
  48. I want to tell you a secret.
  49. I have a surprise for you.
  50. I want you to sing me three songs.
  51. I didn’t like those songs; I want you to sing four more.
  52. Do you know a song about blueberries?
  53. My penis itches.
  54. Do you know a song about donkeys?
  55. I know a song about blueberries. I will sing it to you. (Cue 8 minute mash-up of songs he knows – none of which have anything to do with blueberries – interspersed with nonsense words.)
  56. I want to sing you three more songs (of the same long, made-up variety).
  57. I want you to sing me three more songs (including the full-length versions of Wheels on the Bus and She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain).
  58. What does ______________ mean (insert each line of each song here)?
  59. I want to talk about the day (this has included discussions about dog vomit, the origins and purpose of hospitals, and the ins and outs of air travel).
  60. I want to talk about tomorrow.
  61. I don’t like the plan for tomorrow and would like to discuss changing it.
  62. I want to negotiate donuts and lots of TV for tomorrow.
  63. I want a treat right now.
  64. I have yuckies on my teeth and need to brush them again.
  65. I want to see my sister. I love her.
  66. I want to hug my sister.
  67. I want to bring my sister something.
  68. I want to take something from my sister.
  69. I need Alfie/Cubby/Baby Bear/Monkey. (Always a stuffed animal conveniently not located in his room.)
  70. I’m still hungry.
  71. I want an apple.  Peeled, but not cut up.
  72. I want more water.
  73. I have to pee again, and I want you to come with me.
  74. My blanket is too hot.
  75. I want a cold blanket.
  76. I don’t want any blankets.
  77. Where is my other blanket?
  78. Why do we need blankets?
  79. I want your blanket.
  80. I want you to make me a nest of blankets on my bed.
  81. The nest of blankets you made me is not right.  I want to make the nest. (Cue 10 minutes of nest-making.)
  82. The nest I made is all wrong!  I blame you!  And I’m still thirsty!
  83. Where is the cat?
  84. I need to wear my hat/headlamp/bear slippers/stethoscope to bed.
  85. I’m not tired.
  86. I want the light back on.
  87. I want Dad.
  88. Why are you yelling at me?
  89. I have to pee again.