“Sounds like you need to take a day off,” my friend tells me as we sit on couches waiting for our daughters to emerge from yoga class.
“I am taking a day off. Well, half a day,” I say brightly. “Tomorrow! Miss E and I are volunteering at the book fair.”
She stares at me, deadpan, for what feels like a minute, two minutes. Finally, she cracks a smile. “That’s not what I mean,” she tells me. “I mean you need to take a day OFF. Not four hours away from work so you can volunteer at your daughter’s school.”
Because I’m wound so tightly now, you could almost bounce a quarter off me.
How many metaphors did I mix right there?
Losing. My. Touch. Losing touch. Entirely.
No wonder I can’t write a poem to save my life.
At the book fair, a mom with kids both older and younger than mine shares how she spent last Mother’s Day: At a hotel. By herself. Moms can do that – they can! I’ve heard of such moms, and now I’ve met one. And she says her kids love Mother’s Day. They get to go out for burgers. They spend hours at the arcade. While mom gets to do whatever she wants! Last year, at eleven o’clock at night, she took a bath just because she wanted to. She took three baths during her one-night stay, and she watched TV. Can I TELL you how delicious that sounds?
So, right, with the two mom thing, it’s not like I can ditch out on our special Mom day and expect my Honey to take care of the kid – I mean, she’s a mom, too – but there are other days in the year. Right? Plenty of other days. I can take off another day!
Here’s why: One day, at the close of my first writing retreat in over ten years, the love of my life asked me – begged me – to agree to a puppy. Her work had been slow for a long, long time. She had time in the day for training and exercising a new canine baby.
Our lives had been going along swimmingly. We had reached a state of equilibrium in our home. I had managed two days away to nurture myself.
She really, really, really wanted this. Puppies are cute. Cuddly. Naughty. Hard. I considered it. I railed against it. I talked through all my no’s with a friend, and then I said, “Yes.” I committed. I agreed.
And life became chaos, jam packed every day – good stuff, but so much of it packed into such a short time.
In early March, my Honey took a solo trip. Awesome. With lifelong friends. Since then, we have celebrated her birthday and then Miss E’s, our niece’s birthday, the birthday of a good friend… and the three of us traveled to see my Mom. My Honey’s workload, without warning, exploded into family time. She was suddenly gone all Saturday, all Sunday, easily two nights every week – right through homework-dinner-bedtime-you-know-the-drill – which wouldn’t be too exhausting – I mean, we only have one kid who isn’t grown – but you add to that the PUPPY, who attacks the ancient dachshund, pounces on the cat, snatches homework off the dining room table and nibbles socks on the living room floor – plus an elementary school orchestra concert, a talent show dance and a choral concert with 900 kids.
Sometime last week, I checked out. Gone. Mental break. My days are planned down to ten-minute increments. Our home is a shambles, the bathroom and basement desperate to be cleaned. I blog in stops and starts. My standards are slipping.
I don’t know if it’s the compounded stress of the past two months, or the current chaos of puppy parenting paired with the seat-of-my-pants homework management of an often inattentive fifth grader, or if it’s simply the reality of a daily poetry challenge where there are dips in skill, inspiration and talent in wordsmithing and observational prowess, but I needed to take a break.
I put my poetry challenge on Pause.
So I’m sitting in a chair with my morning coffee, paper and pen last Saturday. My daughter is still in her bedroom, no doubt on her iPad with headphones on, and I know what’s best for her would be for me to interrupt her, to draw her attention to some real world activity, to make breakfast, invite her on a bike ride, suggest we play a game of cards. But I’m enjoying my time in my chair with my notebook, even if I have to set it down every five minutes now that the dogs are awake because in the act of writing this paragraph, this happens:
These few moments of quiet calm in a weekend morning will be what I cling to indefinitely, until summer, until the sea calms and I feel I can stand.
I will take a day off,
a whole day
– decadent –
Just. For. Me.