I am giddy with excitement right now. I know this excitement. I have seen it in my daughters’ faces as they await their birthday celebrations or Christmas morning. It creates spontaneous smiles, bursts of giggles, and impatient pacing. Butterflies dance in my stomach while I scarf down my last bite of breakfast– one over-hard egg. I want to save room for whatever delicacies await me at lunch…but I get ahead of my story.
This past Monday morning, as I sat with my planner evaluating the week’s schedule, the phone rang. Sitting in my office, I answered the only phone in the house that does not afford me an advanced “peek” through my caller ID. Concern quickly consumed my delight at hearing my girlfriend’s voice say a cherry, “Helllooo” from the state next door. Almost three years ago, she moved 9 hours away, taking with her a bit of my sanity. Our conversations are regular, but rare in the early hours of the day. Like me, she homeschools her children, but, unlike me, her load is triple mine. That’s right–6! Perhaps needless to say, our phone conversations are scheduled into our calendars along side doctor’s appointments, Boy Scouts, and 4-H meetings. Spontaneous calls are typically reserved for those “I need to vent” calls.
After quickly confirming that there were no needs for venting, no lost fingers or broken limbs, and no bizarre alien abductions I was relieved, yet perplexed. A call on a Monday morning–for no apparent emergency–that began, “Guess where I am heading?” The snarky retorts were endless, but escaped me in my moment of surprise. “Uh, where?” was all I could muster. “To you!” came her jubilant reply. “Shut up!” I responded–not that I really wanted her to shut up, but this was an unscheduled, out-of-the-blue, no where on the radar, act of spontaneity–from a mother of 6!
Now, I know not everyone is as planner-obsessed as I am, but we mothers know that organization and routine are two essential ingredients of household harmony. My mind struggled to process her words. “Remember that talk we had last week…Hearing our own thoughts…solitude…just a little time away…?’
I remembered it. She had come out for a funeral. She had lost a friend, unexpectedly. We had spent the better part of an afternoon and evening munching Mexican food, sipping on wine, and rambling from one subject to the next. Hours we sat talking together, and still there was more to be discussed, shared, dissected when it was time for her to leave–as there always is with good friends.
That afternoon we had shared our dreams about a mama respite. Just a little bit of solitude–a night, maybe two, during which we could hear our own thoughts, sleep through an evening without an ear tuned in to a child’s breathing, move through a day without a tug, a nudge, or a “What’s for dinner?” Of course we love our husbands and our children, but the idea of two nights (one to get settled, and one to be settled) without anyone, not even a girlfriend, trumped “visions of sugar plums” on a Christmas Eve, spa days and good chocolate. Someday, we both agreed…someday…
We parted, agreeing that two days of solitude would make an ideal Mother’s Day/birthday/Chirstmas/Groundhog’s Day gift.
We both love our lives and our families. But, every now and then, regardless of the joy and fulfillment a job may offer, we all need a break. Barely more than a week later, here she was, on her cell phone, driving away from her home, her children, and her husband for a well-earned, well deserved period of recharging. Her brother and his wife are out-of-town, leaving available one nicely empty, child-free, comfortable accommodation to which she could escape. What had originally been planned as a budget minded “quick couple of days away” was stretched out to a luxurious week at the suggestion of her husband. “Afterall, if you are going to use the gas, why not make it count?” he reasoned. Good point!
During the call, she shared with me what she was hoping for out of her time away. She is a writer–a good writer, which still impresses me when there are 7 voices beyond her own bouncing around in her head. Therefore, at the top of the list, to hear her own thoughts. (“Don’t covet, don’t covet, don’t covet!” I reminded myself.) Tucked in the folds of her week would be a day with me, if I was available, she wondered. Such a silly girl!
I immediately set to shuffling this commitment here and that demand there, leaving (almost) clear and entire day. Aside from picking up and dropping off my daughter at work, we get to play “ladies who lunch” today. We will move at our own schedule, choose a restaurant regardless of its “child’s menu”, finish complete sentences, and peruse stores without a single “don’t touch” reminder. There will be no picking off pickles, requests for extra napkins, or crust cutting during our time. As a taxi cab turns off its light when not in service, we shall leave our “mama hats” at home today.
Therein, is one of the best perks of being a “transitioning mom.” I no longer have babysitters to arrange or nap schedules to consider. Though homeschooled, my children are old enough to self-direct in their lesson work and, though it seems they periodically forget, they can even prepare their own meals. I can leave with a cell phone and directions that it be used only if “someone is bleeding out and 911 has already been called.” Today, for just a bit, I get to fly from my own nest for a small test flight.
My mother used to say, “You kids never look so good as you do in the moment I come home.” My mama batteries are strong and consistent, but like all batteries, they get drained without periodic recharging. Today, my batteries will be charged–over food, and complete sentences, and even moments of silence.