how i spent my mini mommy vacay

Per normal, I pissed the entire morning away, alternating between trying to get into a more relaxed frame of mind and freaking out over what I might have forgotten to pack/say/do that would result in my unexpected allotment of freedom being cut all too short. Kinda like thinking you won the lottery only to discover at the last minute that you were actually 1 number off. Completely unnecessary, as it turns out. By 2:45pm on Tuesday, I was so strung out I almost blew it all. Rather than wait for the other shoe to drop, I reached for the phone to call the whole thing off. Somehow my finger betrayed me and I wound up turning the phone off instead. Sorry, Jolene, Leslie, and Kim for the missed calls!

I marched my junkie self up the stairs for a shower-n-brainstorm session. I do all my best thinking in the shower. Seriously. If there were a waterproof thought recording device (editable and with a 7 sec delay, of course), you wouldn't have to plow through the drivel on here to get to those hidden nuggets of literary gold. You know those nuggets I'm talking about. Just nod your head. My blog, my fantasy.

Anyways, as it often does, clarity struck in the fog of my (way too hot) shower: My number one fear during pregnancy/Aaron's infancy was that I would somehow become one of Those Mothers. You know the ones, right? The ones who can't take a breath away from their little ones for fear that the world will stop turning? The ones who take the idea of attachment parenting* to the next level and then continue on to a level beyond that and then suddenly find themselves so absorbed in their children that they stop to exist separately? The ones who wake up 20 years later and realize that they don't know who they are or what they like to do or where they like to be because they haven't had a break from Laurie Berkner and (organic) mac-n-cheese for decades? That, my friends, was the one thing that kept me up in between night feedings.

We did pretty well while we were in Philadelphia, getting a babysitter here and there, taking time to get out and explore both with and without the stroller. It was never regular, nothing routine, but it happened. And then the move happened.

Series of choices and circumstances formed into new habits and expectations and suddenly I found myself uncomfortable talking with anyone about anything outside of the Realm of Motherhood. Babysitters were called, only to be canceled. Dates planned, then put off. Self got sucked into the vortex, lost amongst whirl of playdates and lessons and storyhours. Somewhere along the way it just became easier to stop treading, to stop fighting. Suffocation isn't really that horrible if you can just convince yourself that you don't need to breath. The darkness isn't so bad once you get used to it.

But, oh! That first ray of light? That beam of something else that shakes you from your monotony? It slices through you like fire. It stabs and burns. It beckons. It pulls. And although you want nothing more than to reach out and grab it and cling to it for dear life, you cringe back further and further into the sodden recesses of what you know now, a victim of a Stockholm of your making. Predator and prey.

I refuse to become a victim.

So I toweled off, pulled on my non-Mom jeans and a pair of impractical shoes (with heels!) (well, sort of heels!) (not tennis shoes!) and an equally impractical top, loaded myself into the Jeep and headed out for some long overdue shopping! At Wal*Mart**! Babysteps, babysteps.

As much as I hate the mecca of all evil and cheapness, there comes that point in every girl's year when she simply cannot put off the trip to Wal*Mart any longer. In this case it was because apparently Wal*Mart has a strong hold on the Rit Dye remover market in this area and my favorite, impractical, make-me-feel-like-a-million-bucks, just-a-little-bit-sexy-but-still-professional, used-to-be-white top was in that load.

So, necessity coupled with the possibility of getting in and out of there in less than 5 minutes because there would be no need for a cart/trip to the bathroom/temper tantrum because dammit, I can't ever remember where the toy section is quick enough to avoid it so we don't have to look at all the cheap plastic crap that will be played with for exactly 2 seconds before it either 1)breaks, 2)is dropped and breaks, or 3)is forgotten, gets stepped on and breaks; well, the stars were aligned as closely as possible to make for a perfect good pleasant stressfree reasonable shopping experience.

In and back out, product in hand; a quick stop at Sonic for the sweet, sweet nectar of a Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade and I was on my way, sanity intact, not yet 4:30pm. My next stop was Kohls for some much needed support scouting.

Taking an almost 4 year old into the bras-n-panties section is not my idea of fun, no matter how cute he is peeking out from under the thong laden rack. Why does he always find the thongs? Wouldn't that round display of sensible cotton pajama bottoms be a better hiding place? But I digress. My full attention could be on the task at hand. Giddy with the freedom, I perused the newest, the brightest, the I'm-still-not-sure-how-that-could-be-attractive-much-less-comfortable and walked out of there drunk on the knowledge that I wouldn't have to try out the fit in my closet and come back with the losers, praying that the winner hadn't been sold out/discontinued.

Next stop: Costco. Again, in and out. I made eyes at somebody else's baby, blowing raspberries back at him while his mother blanched with embarrassment as he pulled books off the tables and tossed them willynilly into the back of the cart. An honest giggle found its way to the surface as I helped her sort out his choices from hers and told her conspiratorially how many times I've found myself doing the exact same thing. We shared an eye roll and that no-touching hug that mothers of small children have figured out how to do because sometimes you just need a hug but there's a certain amount of stigma attached to really hugging a complete stranger.

Off to Target. Time to mull over the cards. I remember a time when I had time to make my own. I miss that time. I don't know how many of my recipients miss those cards, but I miss the creativity and focus of laying out tiny pieces of paper and putting them together just so. I miss it to my core. Moving on, checking items off the list, one after the other. Smile on my face as I mentally smack myself for forgetting something back in that last section, a stark contrast from the thunder cloud that looms threateningly when I have somewhere else to be by someone else's time.

8:30pm: grocery store. Milk, vanilla, ramen noodles. On a whim I checked out one of those DVD rental boxes at the front of the store. Three chick-flicks and a bag of Pirates Booty later, I was on my way home.


No bedtime. No secondthirdfourth drink of water. No unbidden predictions of what tomorrow might bring because he Won't. Go. To. Sleep. No Sports Center. No I'd better get the dishes done now because if I don't then I won't have time to check my email in the morning. Feet on the couch, remote in hand. Watched Chick Flick #1 in it's entirety without having to pause to redirect back to bed or check the weather or click over for scores.


In bed by 11.

The cat finally woke me up at 9:30 Wednesday morning. She was thirsty. Poor baby. Brewed a double pot of coffee (for me. Kitty doesn't care much for the java. I did fill her water bowl, just in case you were wondering.), found NPR on the cable line-up and sat down with my laptop and a book. Therapy at 11:30, lunch at 1. Poked about the house, getting it ready for WeSchool / WedSpag. Got first pick of the veggie boxes, then back home for with enough time to put out some tea to brew for dinner. Friends started arriving about 4:30; Laurie and Aaron showed up just a bit after.

Play, eat, chat, redirect, intervene, terminate, restart. All with an underlying sense of control. Peace. Ease.

Aaron chattered excitedly about everything: What he did, what she said, how that worked, how it tasted and "oh! Mommy! When I am at Miss Laurie's at night? I am not scared. I am happy and excited! And a little bit sad because I missed you and I think you might be lonely but at Miss Laurie's house? In my room there is a FAN!" and passed out the moment his head met the pillow.

Chick-flick number 2, in bed at 10:30pm.

"Mommy, I want to sleep with you". Roll over to check the clock: 7:30am. Time to get up, but who can resist a snuggle with a tousle headed, sleepy-eyed boy? 7:45 -- time to get up for real. Gotta get dressed, get breakfast, pack lunch, pack into the car and get to school. Back into the routine.

Glance in the mirror on the way out the door. I think I see a glimmer of me in there.

I think I like what I'm beginning to see.

*This is not a knock on attachment parenting. I've got nothing against the babywearing, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, Dr. Sears reading types. I've got some beautiful nephews and nieces who are flourishing quite nicely in an attached environment. When it becomes extreme, in either direction, however, then yes, you may consider me a knocker. And a doorbell ringer. Also, I might open up the mail slot and holler if I'm not getting a response.
**Spelling stolen from Lora. She starts everything!


Curiosity said...

Good for you! I have this problem just with my husband. I can't imagine how easy it is to get lost with a child.

Here's to impractical shoes and less practical movies. :)

The Swiss Miss said...

Break on through, sister! Hugs to you for making it a good stay-cation. : )

Lora said...

good for you!
and about that spelling, it took me five tries to see what you meant. It's so ingrained in my brain that I didn't notice!

Stupid Wal*mart and it's ability to get us there once or twice a year despite our convictions...

SheBear said...

I'm hoping I get to be the one to murmur an oh-so-gracious "thank you" for the comment about your nephews/nieces.....or is that just my own narcisisisisissssmmmm flexing itself? ;)

Very thought-provoking post, and it confirms to me the fact that there simply isn't just ONE way to raise a kid. A billion ways to screw up our kids and warp them in unimaginably horrible ways, for sure.....but thanks be to God, probably at least a million ways to do a pretty good job in spite of ourselves and in spite of those 21st century torture devices we fondly call Parenting Books and Parenting Experts.

You know, I doubt the die-hard AP groupies would associate with me if they had an unfrosted window into my parenting style, but that's okay....I laugh at them and point once in awhile, too! ;) On the other hand, I have a few friends who take that AP model to an extreme YOU can't even imagine, and they do so with a graciousness and phenomenal calm (not to mention success--based on their amazing kids!) that leaves me mouth-gaping. And I think the reason they can do it is because it works--for them. It works--for their kid(s). It works--for their family. It works--for their lifestyle. It works because they are doing it because it is the right thing to do for them, not because they read it in a book and think that's what they are supposed to be doing, yk?

I guess my point is, extremes aren't necessarily a bad thing, if it's the right extreme, for the right reason.

You can't have a bell curve without extremes, but the fact is that most of us rest comfortably somewhere between the two, and if we can just figure out how to see the beauty in that spot and therein be content, we wouldn't be looking to one side with envy and feeling like we don't quite measure up, or looking to the other side with contempt and derision.

The thing about AP is, it isn't static. It grows and changes along with your kid. As kids grow, so do mothers, and that moment when you realize that they have reached a level of independence that allows you to test the strength (meaning flexibility and elasticity--not rigidity!) of those attachments you've worked so hard to build....ah, that is a precious moment! IMO, Aaron's reaction to the sleepover is a very real snapshot of what a securely (healthily) attached child looks like. Without those secure attachments, he would not have the confidence to bravely face something so new. And equally true--without those secure attachments (they go both ways) you would likely not have the confidence to let him flap his wings a bit!

I like AP. I especially like my version of AP...and I recommend it to others simply because it's what I know and it's what works for me. And to a large degree, I am fine with (happy even) the realization that my self-identity is tied up in my role as a mother....I don't feel that I've lost--or am in danger of losing--myself. Most days I truly feel that it wasn't until I became a mother that I *found* myself!

But I'm also constantly reminding myself and others to take Grandpa's advice to heart: all things in moderation--even moderation! :-)

I prolly should just make this my own blog post rather than wasting so much of your space.....but we both know that ain't happening, LOL! Love you, sis.....never doubt that! And I'm praying for you....a little birdie told me you are facing a *ahem* difficult weekend! ;)