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.

 

That was for me.

That extra episode of Octonauts I let you watch?

That was for you, because you’ve been helpful, patient and kind this week.

But that was also for me, because I needed 23 minutes to pack bags for tomorrow, load the dishwasher, feed the cat, and breathe, for just a second.

 

That third lullaby I sang tonight?

That was for you, because you love our rare quiet time together, my third child.

But that was also for me, because you are growing too fast, because the glider will move out of your bedroom too soon, and because your warm hand on my cheek and full face smile as I sing won’t last forever, it won’t even last the year.

 

That dance party in the kitchen?

That was for you, because you’ve been cooped up too long in this winter house and need to wiggle and giggle and move.

But that was also for me, because your shimmies, and beautifully un-self-conscious twists, hip shakes and jumps are so lovely, so silly, and so free, and someday you’ll worry more about how you look as you dance, and who is watching.

 

That late bedtime?

That was for you, so I can ease you into this time change.

But that was also for me, as you sat, gently combing my hair and we pretended to color and style, because someday soon, you’ll both be too busy to bother playing hairdresser with your mom, even if she lets you stay up late.

 

My babies, my marvelous little people, thank you for the gifts you give me every day.

three

The Sweet Spot

It is 9:30pm. My family is sleeping.

I’m sitting in low Sunday night light, looking forward to climbing into my clean sheets.  The dryer is running downstairs, and I can smell the moist clean laundry smell. My children are clean, brushed, cozy, and sleeping that deep sleep of childhood.

 

My sweetest little one has learned to love sleep.  He sighs as he rolls to his side, pulls his silky blanket up to his face, and closes his eyes.  And I have sighed, too. I have felt my shoulders relax, my mind calm, as I slowly, slowly start to catch up on nights of sleep interrupted.

 

I made applesauce today from bright fall apples. My son told me he liked it better than chocolate pudding. High praise from a 4-year-old.

 

I pulled out a tiny ceramic tea set for Plum this morning. It was a leftover Christmas present; she was too little for it last year.  She dropped and broke one of the teacups this morning – she’s probably still too little. But she loves it, and loved making tiny cup after tiny cup of tea, coffee, and some other creation that included peppermint and salt. We played all morning, sipping delicious drinks from those thimble cups, as she poured the teapot, holding the top as she poured, always adding lots of sugar.

 

The sun was out today.  Leaves turning, falling.  The chill I love was back in the air after a stretch of rare October humidity.  And we had nowhere we needed to be.  We have many years of busy weekends to come.  Friends, sports, activities, adventures, all of these will fill our calendars too soon.  It has already started. But this weekend, today, I got to spend the day enjoying my cozy house and my favorite small people.

 

They are big, big enough to sleep, to play, to imagine, to inquire.

 

But they are little, too.  Little enough to snuggle, to need reassurance that monsters are never allowed in our house, and to love pudding more than just about anything.

Growth

Pickle, if sometimes I look at you with a bewildered look on my face, it is because you’ve just used the word “concentration” or “distract” or “predator” correctly and I have no idea how that is possible. 

Pickle

 *****

Plum, if I laugh at you when I’m supposed to be grumpy at your utter disregard for direction or instruction, it is because you have seen my displeasure, and instead of heeding my request, go your merry way saying simply, “Be HAPPY, Mama!” 

Plum

 *****
Pistachio, if I spend too much time kissing your wobbly cheeks each evening, and making you chortle, it is because I see my baby turning into a thinking, exploring, social little being and I know you will change into a toddler too soon. 
Pistachio
 *****
True, some days bedtime can’t come early enough.  But even on those days, I can’t imagine my luck, my three dear ones. 

I Miss Brunch.

I saw them. Sitting outside in the August overcast cool. They had drinks, cocktails, beer, small plates. They were leaning back, relaxed. They were talking. Laughing. Sipping.

Brunch. 2pm on a Sunday.

I looked at them and thought that perhaps after brunch, they’d wander home, flip through a magazine, take a nap under a spinning ceiling fan, belly full and head a little swimmy from the mimosas. They’d wake up, maybe shop a bit for nothing in particular, and without a list or itinerary. They’d pick up a piece of fish or some scallops for dinner. They’d take a walk. They’d take a drive. They’d go pick some raspberries. They’d consider going to the movies and decide against it. They’d finish reading the Sunday paper or the latest New Yorker. Maybe that woman would research a new bathroom fixture, pluck her eyebrows. Maybe she’d spend some time sorting old photos or looking up new recipes, listening to a podcast of storytellers. Maybe she’d finally clean out that closet. Make some raspberry muffins. Fold some laundry. Lie in bed in the quiet and think.

I miss that.

I miss brunch.

I miss the me I used to get to be. I miss being untethered.

I would like to say that I am the same person I was before I had children. But I’m not. The very center of me has changed. I am tied to them and there is never a moment they aren’t with me. In me.

And now, even when I get that time, that time to myself, to enjoy lazy brunches, to browse bookshops, to just be, by myself, and to recreate those untethered times, I recognize they are just that — recreations. They are wonderful and restorative times, but they are recreations of a time and a me that no longer exist. And when my hour or two is over I slip off that costume of my former self and return to being me, the current edition.

Still, sometimes, I miss brunch. I’ve replaced it with unreasonable wake up calls, too much cold coffee, Cheerios on the floor. But I also get tiny toenails, perspectives on the world from those new to it, and the warmth and heaviness of small sleeping bodies laying, growing, breathing, against mine. And though sometimes I miss the way brunch used to be, the changed me wouldn’t trade. And I know that’s the way it is supposed to be.

New Normal

Mommy Wars – My Two Cents

The recent cover of Time Magazine has caused quite a kerfuffle.  Not shocked.

Here are the basics. Moms judge each other. Moms say, “Stop judging!” Moms keep judging.  Repeat.  I don’t expect this to stop.

It is the same old story this time around too.  Mamas are poo-pooing other mama’s choices, the attachment parenting crap, the stories about which mama is doing it better, doing it more, making better mama choices…

Here’s the thing.  All mamas – no matter how high and mighty – worry that they’re doing it all wrong. There is no other job on earth like it – you work your arse off, for no pay, and there is no guarantee of success.

In the end, we’re really raising little people to be their own people, to leave us, and to function in the world. I, for one, am skeptical that attachment parenting does anything to help raise well-adjusted, healthy little humans.  Perhaps it allows moms (because it is always moms, isn’t it? Sheesh.) to say to themselves, “I did everything I could!” when their little brat turns into a big brat. Who knows.

In the meantime, if you don’t…

…breastfeed until the wee one is old enough to get a learner’s permit

…breastfeed at all

…co-sleep

…baby wear

…stay home

…cook all of your bebe’s food

…sew Halloween costumes

…remember to bring a birthday snack

…sign up for music/swim/art/gymnastic classes

Don’t worry.  Your kid would have been screwed up anyway.

And stop judging already.