My parents arrived last night, an overnight stop on their way to St. Louis. When they left, they took both kids with them.
For a week.
Despite the packing, the Great Toothbrush Debate, and the careful counting of ‘sleeps’ in the hopes that Sunny wouldn’t explode from excitement until she was well away, it didn’t really sink in until this morning, after I’d already located two lunchbags and pulled four slices of bread out of the bag, all the while talking to Janie about how much fun she was going to have at Six Flags, what to do if she was lost, and how she needed to look after Sunny, maybe we should go over our phone numbers one more—
“What are you doing, Mom?”
I looked at the knife. “Making your lunches for—oh, wait. You’re not going to camp today, are you.”
“No. No, we’re not.”
“Right . . . want a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast?”
So that’s how eating a pb&j for breakfast was my last sacrificial act of parenting for four days.
I have to work today—it’s my one night a month—but after tonight I’m off until Saturday.
Four days of Mommy Time. Four bright and shining days.
Those of you without kids—and I know there are a few of you out there, somewhere—may not understand the feeling of freedom, verging on vertigo, that this has given me.
A few of you might even wonder if celebrating this might not be just a bit close to Bad Mommy territory.
I’m wondering that myself.
See, I once mentioned on a forum, in response to a thread about how we fit writing into our lives, that since I had two kids under ten and a full-time job, most of my ‘solid writing time’ was before they woke up and after they went to bed, and that sometimes my husband took the kids away for a couple hours on the weekends so I could fit in a little more. Otherwise, I did the scribbled notes thing throughout the day. I wished I had a whole day to write, sometimes, but the kids wouldn’t always need me like they do, so I’d keep on trucking until I did—or words to that effect.
Or maybe not quite to that effect, since the moderator of the thread immediately replied that children were a choice and since I chose to have them, it was ironic that I was complaining about the time they took out of my day. And that some people have a whole day to write because they’re disabled, or unemployed,so where did I get off envying them with my able-bodied, employed privilege? And she herself was working two jobs and taking care of her elderly mother, so I should probably get over myself.
I got over myself so much that I apologized to the thread for not understanding the question and for implying that I was Busier Than Thou and quit the forum.
That was four years ago, and I’m still trying to parse it out.
The thing is . . . my children were both choices. Janie was a gift and Sunny was a bona fide miracle. I love them and am amused and amazed by each of them every day. My world—the entire world— is better because they are in it and if there ever comes a time when I’m called upon to trade my life for theirs, tell me where to sign and get the hell out of my way.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t get impatient and annoyed with some of their behavior—and vice versa, no question. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally want to pursue a plot thread or enjoy someone else’s words or play Plants vs. Zombies—or clean the grout with my fingernails—rather than read Barbie and the Three Musketeers for the fifteenth time in three days.*
And it doesn’t mean my offspring and I don’t need a break from each other—from the mutual whining and nagging and revolting choice of favorite foods and the bedtime battles. And, for the love of all that has ever been holy, Pokemon.
I’m looking forward to watching my favorite shows when they actually air and to not watching anything animated or geared to the Disney demographic.** I’m gonna have zucchini tarts for dinner with companions who won’t make horrible faces at the thought and eat ice cream in the living room without worrying about setting a bad example. I’m going to sleep-in, see a PG or R movie or two without using the mute button and subtitles, stay up as late as I want to finish that Alexandra Sokoloff novel . . . and I’m gonna write.
It’s going to be great.
Of course, the reason this time is going to be so enjoyable is that it’s short.*** I’m going to get them back.
I’m expecting to get a little anxious around Thursday and I insisted on phone calls every bedtime. I’m a little anxious now, thinking about nights without giggles and tickles and Super Sunny stories, or questions about how the universe works and why it isn’t a little more sensible and maybe just one more page of Calvin & Hobbes.
But I filled up on hugs before I left this morning and I’m glad they’re getting this time with their grandparents.
And that I’m staying home.
Yeah, pretty soon, I’ll realize that filling up on hugs isn’t possible and maybe I won’t be so glad that the majority of their time won’t include me.
And that I’m staying behind.
But I’m thinking that this trial run should be pretty cool.
Pass the Talenti and the remote.
*Sunny is really good at finding that book, no matter where I’ve hidden it.
** I’d look forward to having the television off, but it’s baseball season and I’m outnumbered.
***Okay, I did beg Mom for another week . . . But sheesh, who wouldn’t?
16 thoughts on “Training Wheels on my Empty Nest”
Okay, and to the moderator, really?? I mean, really??? For the record, being a full-time working mother with two or three or twelve kids, and constantly shafting someone somewhere, uggh. As if you could possibly not lay enough guilt on yourself for missed events/andallthatisinvolvedinmothering that you need someone to point it out? Please. There is absolutely no point in even entertaining some moron’s self-righteous propaganda, and the best thing is to know that idiots exist in the world to remind us to count our blessings. Any mother in the world gets it, and if they want to live in a state of denial more power to them, but I think a good way to appreciate what we have and to not become a psycho is occasionally to allow ourselves to have wants and needs that do not depend on our childrens happiness.
All of this is to say, good for you, enjoy the time, and the fact that you were making them sandwiches for camp (ha!) shows just how much you need a break.
The moderator can kiss it. Now back to peace, love and mary sunshine for me. 😉
Yeah . . . If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have reminded her that taking care of her mother was a choice, too, and we’re all trying to find time for ourselves. She was obviously pretty overwhelmed herself.
And I’m so enjoying the time, Lyra—I slept in until 7:30 !
No kids here, but I totally get it. People are always wondering if my husband really exists, because we have many separate interests, and don’t feel the need to be constantly attached at the hip. The time we do spend together is great, but it’s also great to be able to go off and do things that we enjoy separately without recrimination. Whatever works for your family is what is best for your family. (Not to mention the fact that having full jurisdiction of the remote control is a dream many of us have!)
“Whatever works for your family is what is best for your family.”
So true, Odie! I need to remember that.
My husband and I are like that, too—we even have separate checking accounts, too, as well as a general household account, which weirds some people out. But it means that we don’t argue about money much.
Wow! Same here with the checking accounts. Everyone is always weirded out when we talk about it. I’m afraid I have a lot of control freaks for friends.
Seriously: “Don’t you trust each other?”
Well, yeah. That’s kind of the point.
Um, speaking as someone who has made the choice to not have kids? That moderator is a Grade A jerk. (But it’s her CHOICE to be a Grade A jerk, right?) Maybe she should feel shitty every time she eats a meal since there are starving people in the world. Maybe she should be overjoyed about working those two jobs because some people in this economy can’t find one job. And maybe she should praise the lord every time she uses the bathroom because there incontinent people out there who need to wear Depends.
It does get to be exhausting after a point, doesn’t it?
I’m pretty sure she was trying to make a point about privileged assumptions, but . . . yeah. Not effective at all.
As a Mom who raised two kids during the 1980s and 1990s, I get this. Those decades are a blur. There never was much in the way of personal time outside of work that didn’t involve kids. It was totally worth it but that doesn’t mean it was easy.
That’s it exactly, Susan—the years are short but the days are long.
I wouldn’t trade my two for anything, but a break is nice (now, why haven’t they called, yet?).
You know what they say about too much of a good thing?
Well, I love Talenti, but I can’t have it every night. Can I? I mean, I can, but I SHOULDN’T.
Before I lose the plot here, allow me to concur that everyone needs a break sometimes. Choosing to have children means that you’re choosing to be inconvenienced most of the time, not all of the time. And as parents, we’re cool with that.
Enjoy your week like I’m enjoying that photo at the top of this post. I laugh every time I look at it.
Talenti, yes. Motherhood . . . well . . .
Thanks, Lisa. I’m planning on dancing down the road in my sheepskin (metaphorically)!
Enjoy your time, Sarah. The ability to string two consecutive thoughts together without interruption sounds like pure bliss. Yeah, I get it.
Thanks, Deb. I was up to three thoughts yesterday!
(but I’ve forgotten what they were . . . )
so i have this award in my head…it’s called a Giffy.
that moderator would for sure get a giffy. six years you’ve been considering her comment? She may deserve a lifetime giffy achievement award.
my boss has won MULTIPLE giffies. there have been days when even my husband has been nominated.
What’s a Giffy? It’s short for, “go F yourself!” I know–it’s so very, very crass and offensive.
BUT…it you think to yourself, “Awww, that person just won a Giffy! Congratulations!” It’s somehow not as bad as saying it outright, and even better, makes me smile when a part of me wants to punch something.
Josey, you are the wind beneath my wings.
I’m adopting the Giffy method from now on. Thank you!