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.

 

To my firstborn at midnight.

To My Firstborn at Midnight

I wake you gently at midnight.

And you yawn and stretch,

Your mouth widening into the imperfect “O” I suddenly remember from years ago,

When your limbs were not so long, your sleep not so solid.

When you were still so small you fit in my arms. And we spent minutes and hours in the glow of the hall nightlight.

Your face, grown, is still yours.

And your crooked yawn is the same.

And I can’t quite believe how heavy you have become as I pick up your slack, warm, lanky body that smells like spit, and sweet sweat, and blankets.

And I am glad. And tired.

Because the middle of the quiet nights with you are mine alone.

It will be years until another person knows your midnight yawn.

For now, it is all mine.

 

 

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.

Poke Me

My mother has been bugging me to try acupuncture. She has a lovely acupuncturist down the street from her house, and she has found the practice and the treatment both beneficial and relaxing. She offered to gift me acupuncture at Christmas. It was a kind offer, but the office she frequents is a 20-minute drive from my house, and frankly, if I have two or three free hours, I’d rather take a nap.

But a few weeks ago I went to a sandwich shop down the street from my office and noticed that an acupuncture practice was right next door. A quick peek at the website confirmed it was convenient (open every day!) and inexpensive (sliding scale pay-what-you-want!) so I decided to give it a try.

Recline!

I did have some trouble with the new patient paperwork. On the “Reason for Your Visit” line I wanted to write, “I have a full-time job, three small children and I really need a nap. Twelve needles and $15 is a small amount to pay!” but that wouldn’t fit (and I didn’t want to sound crazy), so I just wrote “Health Maintenance.”

The office receptionist, Norm, was a soft-spoken man sitting with a crocheted orange, yellow and green afghan on his lap. The practice owner looked exactly like Louis C.K., which was excellent and weird all at the same time. A rush of white noise met me when I walked into the big, dimly lit treatment room of 20 blanket-covered recliners. About five of the recliners held peacefully napping patrons. A brief consult, chair choice, pulse check, tap tap tap of 11 needles and away I went to slumberland. Only I didn’t.

My brain:

Am I tired? I don’t feel tired. But this chair is comfortable.

That needle in my hand still stings a little. I think. Does it sting a little? I don’t know. He said to make purposeful eye contact if it hurt. Does it hurt?

I’ll give it a minute.

I wonder how many white noise machines he has.

Probably eight. Sounds like eight.

Shouldn’t I be drowsy by now?

My head itches. 

I can’t even remember where he put the needles.

I’m hungry.

I should get a tuna sandwich next door after I’m done here.

I think I’ll be here about 20 minutes, but I don’t know exactly how long 20 minutes is and I’m sitting here with needles in me and I can’t check so I might as well relax.

Relax already.

You only have 18 minutes left to nap. So nap already.

I suppose if I can’t nap I can at least meditate. This room is dark and warm and cozy and apparently I forgot all about that needle in my hand.

Or did I?

Right. Back to the meditation.

Each thought is a maple leaf floating down a bubbling woodland brook. Look a leaf! And another leaf and…

I think I’ll put pickles on my sandwich.

Dammit.

A leaf, I’m thinking about floating leaves.

I should have eaten lunch before my appointment.

Hear the bubbling brook, let the thoughts flow away from me. Like leaves in a brook. Goodbye thoughts.

It must be 78 degrees in here. That’s a nice warm, nappy temperature.

My head still itches.

How long have I been here?

Am I actually paying to nap in a room full of strangers? I guess I am. Except I’m not napping.

I’m going to write about this.

But I should probably be sleeping, not writing blog posts in my head and pretending to nap.

Leaves. I’m thinking about leaves.

fall-folliage-tree-leaves

Mr. Louis C.K. Acupuncture must have to fold 150 blankets a day. 

At least they’re squares.

Alright, the leaf thing clearly isn’t happening.

Has it been enough time? Is it time to make purposeful eye contact?

Did someone just shuffle by me? I think they did. Oh God, was I mouth-breathing? I might have been mouth-breathing.

Oh well. They don’t know me.

Maybe I’ll get a salad for lunch. Is my head ever going to stop itching?

I wonder how much money this place makes.

Do you think he bought the recliners off of craigslist? Maybe he did. I should count the recliners. There are probably 20.

I’ll half-open my eyes and count the ones on the other side of the room.

11.

I should be sleeping. I’ve probably been here about 10 minutes, but I really have no idea.

It is pretty cozy though.

And it is peaceful.

And it is better than eating a sad desk lunch.

I’m definitely going to get tuna. I haven’t had tuna in eons.

Is it time? It must be time. My head still itches. Why does my head itch? If I get lice from these fleecy blankets I’m going to be annoyed. Okay. Time for purposeful eye contact I think.

I’ll open my eyes slowly, pretend to look rested, get the needles removed and go get a tuna fish sandwich.

Does anyone say “tuna fish” anymore? Is that redundant? Does that make me sound 80? I used the word “hamburg” – as in ground beef, not the city – the other week and my sister asked me when I turned 75 years old. Is “tuna fish” like that?

Oh, I was going to open my eyes.

And like that it was over. Purposeful eye contact was made, Louis C.K. Acupuncturist pulled out the needles, told me to take my time and stretch, and laid a comforting hand on my ankle.

And I felt?

Fine. Hungry. Pretty relaxed, actually. The crick in my neck felt better; at least I think it felt better.

So I decided I’m going to go back. Once a week. For a nap, or not. The cozy stillness is good for me, and I bet the acupuncture is, too.

But I’ll remember to eat lunch first.

Health maintenance, indeed!

I Need My Eyes Checked

I read a lovely post today on Rants from Mommyland about THE BLUR – that crazy, busy, and absolutely foggy time when children are very young.

And yes indeedy, I’m in the thick of it.

Specs

I’m glad I have photo evidence of the last year, because I don’t remember much of it.  I looked through the photos on my cell phone the other day, and thought to myself, “Where did the last year go?”  And it wasn’t a wistful, sighing question, it was a real one, pondered by a tired, and bufuddled mom. It was more like “Holy crap, I’m losing it.  Where the heck did the last year go?!” I am glad I have photo evidence of me, the kids, activities, and adventures, because I can’t even recall what I had for breakfast this morning.

I used to have a brain.  I swear I did.

More evidence of The Blur?

When I read fluffy magazines during my three trips to hair salon per year (that is a problem in and of itself) I have no idea who the people are in the “Who Wore It Better?” features.  Not a clue.  I never believed my mother when she told me she didn’t know any popular music or culture from 1977-1987.  But now I believe her.

And do you know what happens on a regular basis? Someone will reference a current event – local, national or international – and the exchange will go something like this:

Someone: Wow, did you hear about that train derailment/child abduction/monetary crisis?

Me: Yeah, awful, huh?

In reality, I never have any idea what they’re talking about. None. Zip. Zero.

And then there is the classic driving-halfway-to-work-before-you-realize-you-are-listening-to-Wee-Sing-Silly-Songs-and-singing-along.  Once a week.  Okay, twice. Okay, every day.

The Blur is real, and I’m IN IT. And it is kind of hysterical.

Speaking of rabbits…

Hot Hat

My house is still suffering from the Christmas explosion.

From my seat, I can observe many things, including: bear slippers, Matchbox cars, unmatched socks, stacks of recycling, bags for Goodwill, puzzles, 2 Fireman hats and an elephant that shoots colored balls out of its trunk.  I am trying to be thankful for the joyful season and abundance, and resist the urge to put stacks by the curb with “free” signs.  (If there were no snow banks, I might actually do that…)

But I can’t find my battery charger.

I read a book.

I took a nap.

I took a walk.

I baked.

I had some cocktails and dinner out.

I listened to some great music, turned up too loud.

I went to bed early.

I rocked my daughter to sleep.

I laughed with my son.

I reconnected with old friends.

I stayed up late in the quiet, puttering.

And I still haven’t been able to recharge my batteries. Energy is running low. Where is that dang pink bunny with the drum, anyway?

It was a very long short week.  Tonight, on the drive home, my husband and I were trying to make a plan to divvy up the bedtime duties while Plum wailed exhaustedly, and Pickle muttered and mumbled requests just quietly enough that we couldn’t hear him.

“What is the plan?” Ty asked.

“Well, I plan to pull into the driveway, put the car in park and then run away screaming.” I responded.

“Shoot,” he said, “that was my plan, too.”

At least we can laugh together.

Sure, it was less than a week ago that we had one of the best days ever, but today we’re feeling tired and worn. That’s how this whole parenting thing works, I think.  The good news is that funks don’t last forever, and one day – someday – we will be rested and recharged. I am thankful I can recognize that.

Under those fireman hats – it’s a good place to start looking for that charger.

Night-night.

Plum Baby is two weeks old today.  She is really pretty amazing.  She is growing like crazy.  And is really pretty reasonable.  She doesn’t fuss too much, is soothable, and sleeps in 3 hour chunks (sometimes).  And big brother has been amazing – gentle, kind, concerned and helpful.  Sometimes I look at the two of them and cannot believe my luck.

Okay, now all the mushy, lovey stuff is out of the way…

This is hard.  Really hard.  And today I am tired.

Who am I kidding? Every day I am tired.  And today I don’t feel like talking about how lucky I am (I am), or how good I have things (I do). Indulge me while this tired mama whines a little.

Today was a 12-hour day alone with the 2 peanuts.  Did I rely on “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat on my iPhone, and DVRed versions of “Yo Gabba Gabba”? I did.  Did baby fuss and cry and otherwise not sleep for an eternal 4 hour stretch during dinner –> bath –> bedtime?  She did.  Did Mr. Pickle Pumpkin take his first tumble down the stairs (only 4 of them – I was supervising and actually caught him, mid-tumble with a baby in my other arm)?  He did (and was fine). Given all of that, it wasn’t a bad day.  But it was a long day.  And I am simply done.

Tomorrow I will do less, and sleep more, and spend lots of good quality time with Miss Plum, snuggling. And I will cut myself some slack.