Coming Monday: new post! Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!
I hate to rush. I’ve hated it since I was a kid. Every time we left the house it was the same thing. My father would say “Come on, Viki, come ON!” waving his hands to push her out of the house. “Let’s go, let’s GO! Come on, we gotta go! Oh, we don’t need that, just get in the car! You gotta go to the bathroom now? It’s not that far, just get in the car!” He’d chase us down the stairs and out the garage and then we’d be in the car and he’d stay in the house for what felt like 10 minutes. He would check all the doors and windows to make sure they were locked. It was a three-bedroom, three-level house. So we’d wait in the car with no key, no A/C and no heat, until he finished. As we waited, I’d try to calm down after the stress of rushing, but once I saw that garage door close and my dad duck under it, headed toward the car, the anxiety enveloped me. He’d be all hyped up from getting us out the door so there was always some reason to scold. As we backed down the driveway, my mom and I sat through a “lessons learned” presentation after each unsatisfactory exit.
I decided that once I was on my own, I would stop rushing — forever. And I stuck to it. I left enough time to get ready and get there on time. I planned what I had to bring so I’d be orderly and organized on my way out. It suited me very well. When I got married, I’d chastise my husband if he tried to push me out the door.
And this was the scene at my house Wednesday morning:
“Let’s go, we’re gonna be late for preschool! Down the stairs. Down, down. WALK! Ok, put your shoes on. Other foot. Other foot! Here’s your jacket. No, Big Bird does not have to come with us. You don’t want the other kids to take him, do you? No, we don’t need that, no! All right, take it, just GO! Walk. Come ON! Ok, Mommy’s going to the car. Bye!”
“No bye!” She cried from the landing.
“Then come ON! We’re going to miss circle time!”
“No circle time?”
“That’s right. No songs, no letter of the day, no snack. We’re LATE, honey, and it’s starting, so we have to go. Now! Come on! Move!”
When we got in the car, I asked myself: How did this happen?
Ashamed and concerned about the long-term effects of rushing Rose, I examined my behavior. I always hated being the rushee. How did I become the rusher?
The explanation wasn’t much of a stretch. I’m not a patient person. At all. I fake it pretty well for parenting purposes, but deep down, I’d rather have everything now, now, now! I’m even worse now that I’m pregnant. I can’t deal with the mundane patience-testing experiences that normal people can handle. Traffic is the perfect example. When I was pregnant with Rose, my husband, Matt, and I were on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge heading to Kent Island to see a band. We’d breezed through Annapolis, but now we were at a dead stop at the toll plaza. As soon as we stopped, I began to fidget. Then I said “This sucks. I hate the bridge in the summer. How is it that this is the only freakin’ route to the beaches? There’s millions of people in D.C. and they all go to the beaches in the summer and this is the only bridge. That’s just wrong.”
Matt, ever helpful, said “Well they are talking about a ferry.”
“’Bout fuckin’ time,” I slumped in my seat, pushed every radio button, looked out the window. “You should be able to see our neighborhood from here. I mean, we can see the bridge. God, why didn’t we go look at it before we left? We wouldn’t have left the house. This totally sucks.” I looked behind us. Stopped cars as far as I could see. “We’re never gonna get there. I’m hungry. I’m gonna pass out before we can get our food. Crap!” Fifteen minutes passed. We’d moved three feet. “Oh my God, I can’t handle this. Can we turn around?” I looked for an out. I couldn’t even see where the backup started. The cars behind us didn’t move. My eyes darted around the outside of the car. Guardrails, cars, pavement – all just inches apart. I considered getting out and walking off the bridge. But then Matt would be mad at me. Really mad. Too mad to get over it. And how would I get home? Defeated, I slumped in my seat, grumbling, “This sucks.”
Now that I have been cursed with a pokey toddler, my patience level hasn’t changed. It may have appeared to improve after I had Rose, when I could, for example, take mood stabilizing drugs and, if they didn’t work, get drunk. “But how can you be a parent?” you may ask, as you start to dial Social Services.
Here’s how: when I’m with Rose, I’ve learned to fake it by substituting actual patience for parenting strategy. If she throws something hard at my head, I’ve learned to say, “Honey, we do not throw the remote. We throw a ball, or a pillow or Elmo, but we do not throw the remote. And we do not throw anything at anybody’s head. If you do it again, you will get a time out.” When she clings to my leg like an infatuated Chihuahua, I say, “Honey, you said you wanted milk. I cannot get your milk until you let go of my leg.” And I stand still until she complies.
I’ve also learned to assess each behavior by importance. Years ago, in somebody’s bathroom, I read a bit of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” and I learned for the first time that some stuff is, in fact, small. Some stuff is even inconsequential. And it’s not always obvious which is which. For example, Rose has learned to unlock the sliding glass door and go out on the deck by herself. I don’t have a problem with this. Before you pick up that Social Services hotline, let me describe the deck. It’s essentially a big pack and play. Last year we installed mesh between the rails because they were too far apart. We also installed a gate that closes off the stairs so she can’t get down to the backyard. And the entire deck is visible from the kitchen, so if I’m cooking, I can see her. So I let her go out on the deck by herself. The first time Matt saw her do it, he freaked out.
“ROSE! Never go out there without Mommy or Daddy! DO YOU HEAR ME?” he yelled. Naturally, she was confused and kept going. I had to explain my whole safety rationale to Matt and then we had to teach her to tell one of us if she wants to go outside. Matt would never have tolerated this behavior on his own, but after I explained it to him, he thought my assessment was fairly reasonable. He’s not very up on the small stuff philosophy.
So when Rose wants to bring her Etch-a-Sketch in the car and we don’t need it, my first instinct is to say no, but then I think, Is this important? Seriously, what difference does it make? If it gets us out of the house, who cares? And then I say, “Fine, bring it.” It saves me a lot of grief and exempts me from developing actual patience.
As we sat in the circle at preschool on Wednesday, I, concerned that I’d damaged her, watched her make the Itsy Bitsy Spider go up the water spout. And then she voiced all the animal sounds for “Old MacDonald.” She’d reached a new level of participation, and this was the first time I’d seen it. So I didn’t cripple her by rushing out of the house. Kids bounce back, I guess. And if Mommies don’t start out with patience, they learn to work around it. I guess Mommies can bounce back too.
Is it all just wasted time?
Can you live with yourself
When you think of what
You left behind?
“Wasted Time” — Sebastian Philip Bierk; David Michael Sabo; Rachel Bolan Southworth
I used to lose sleep for days or weeks. When it happened, I never felt safe; I couldn’t focus; and I’d always latch onto the idea that something really great or something really bad was imminent. Once I thought I’d win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes. Another time I thought I’d get myself a job writing for “Saturday Night Live.” It happened every nine to 18 months. Sometimes events would trigger it. Every time “Uncle Gus” came to visit (See Some Things You Can’t Forgive); right before my wedding; when my first marriage ended; the first time my grandmother got sick.
For weeks, I wouldn’t know what day or what time it was, I’d lose hours, days, classes, jobs and friends. It started when I was 17 and Yaya had to go to the hospital. I couldn’t sleep for a week. The episodes were mild at first. During that one, I went to school, shrieked at a tap on the shoulder, started my job at Baskin Robbins, cried when my boyfriend stood at the counter, insisting I quit, and then they fired me.
My parents didn’t take that episode seriously, or the next one or the next. Once, when I was 21, after 2 or 3 weeks of freaking out and telling my concerned friends I was ok, they did take me to the Crisis Center in Carmel, where two nice men listened to me and gave me some pills. I slept for three days, woke up fine, and that was that. Problem solved. I remember once having a psychiatrist appointment after an episode, and he prescribed something that made me feel stoned. I complained, stopped taking it, and never saw him again.
My first husband tried to help me. Shortly before our wedding, I freaked out and he took me to see doctors but they didn’t help. They thought I was anxious, or depressed, or just psychotic. When our marriage ended, I freaked out again. That was the time I thought I’d work for SNL. I went to a psychiatrist recommended by our marriage counselor and I told him what my problem was. “You’re bipolar,” he said. Just like that. He prescribed some medication. I’ve never had another episode and now you’d never know that I’m mentally ill. Even during the early years, my disease wasn’t new or exotic. Everyone knew about bipolar disorder. It was all over Oprah. I even taped that episode for my mother and told her that’s what I thought I had. She waved my theory away. I worked with several therapists over the years. But no one deduced the right diagnosis before my 29th year.
And that’s what kills me. The wasted time. How much living could I have done if I didn’t freak out all the time? If I hadn’t lost all those jobs, could I have had a real career? Would I have published a book by now? What happened to those days and weeks I lost? What about all those years that I wrote off my own sanity?
I’ll never know. Losing all that time is one of my biggest regrets. Why couldn’t I just admit to myself I was sick and go to the right doctors? Why couldn’t I accept that there was something really wrong with me? I honestly didn’t know how easy the solution would be. A few pills a day and I’m a normal person. I think if I had known that, I’d have done it sooner. But I was so scared. So scared to get labeled, so scared to hear the truth. And now I mourn the loss of all that time.
Was the time really wasted? When I was in a 12-Step program, they said, “Everything happens right on time.” It’s a perfectly reasonable statement except for regrets that tear us up inside, yet those regrets are the very issues that sentiment’s about.
Between the ages of 17 and 29, I managed to graduate high school, get my bachelor’s degree in Psychology (believe me, the irony isn’t lost), work in a psychiatric hospital (again, I get it), move to Florida, realize I wanted to write, place my first published article in a magazine, move back to New York, get a job at a newspaper, survive a horrific car accident, learn to live with the resulting brain damage, land and lose another newspaper job, get married, get divorced and get a national reporting job that moved me to Washington, D.C.
Also during that time I established my reputation as a slut in high school; attempted suicide; used drugs; quit drugs; dropped out of two colleges; lost at least five jobs; adopted a puppy; gave him up; showed up psychotic at work; moved without telling my roommate; lost several friends; and knowingly embarked upon a doomed marriage.
When I first learned about death as a kid, I used to lie in backseat of the car on the way home from Yaya’s in the city, and I’d think, In the next minute, I’ll be one minute closer to death. And the next minute, it’ll be closer. And closer! I’ve learned a little about the passage of time since then, but I’m no less alarmist when it comes to death. I was 38 when I had my first child. My first thought was, “I’ll be almost 50 when she’s 10!” My next thought: “When she’s 40, I’ll be 80. Oh, no just how much of her life will I live to see?”
It’s no surprise that a kid like that would grow up to obsess about wasted time. And maybe that is my lesson to learn, my cross to bear. Maybe that’s why I’ve wasted so much – fodder for this cosmic lesson. Maybe regret is my driving force. If I didn’t feel I was so behind, maybe I’d never push myself to accomplish anything. I try to live as if I’ll get hit by a bus tomorrow. For every activity I consider writing off, I think, Ok, so if I die tomorrow, will I be satisfied with what I’ve done? The answer’s always no, but thinking about it helps me prioritize. When I’m dead, will folded clothes really matter? Ok, no, but writing that chapter will. Will I care whether Rose’s toys are picked up? Shit, Matt can do that before the mourners come, but if I read her a story right now, she’ll have one more memory of Mommy.
It’s a morbid method, yes, but I don’t encounter a lot of buses, so the statistical probability’s in my favor. And it helps me decide what’s really important. When I worked at the newspaper, I wrote obituaries. Hundreds of them. During that time, I decided that when I died, I wanted a kick-ass obituary. One that would make readers say, “Wow, what a life!” Or “Wow, I didn’t know she did all that!” So I shifted my focus from trying to fulfill other people’s expectations to defining and fulfilling my own. I decided that the pursuit of happiness trumped the pursuit of money or approval or prestige. It’s not like the founding fathers wrote “money, prestige and social standing” into the Declaration of Independence. Those guys knew the deal. I guess you had to when no one lived past 40. Maybe they thought about death all the time too. It might be morbid, but my method works for me. I just wish I had learned it sooner.
You build your resume. I’ll build my obituary. — Maria Bellos Fisher
Instead of the expected sappy Mother’s Day tribute, I thought I’d share this excerpt from my book in progress, and finish writing the scene while I was at it. Though she wasn’t able to understand, my mother inspired this book. I heard author Natalie Goldberg speak at the Seattle Public Library, and she told us that when her mom died, she attempted to record every single thing she could remember about the woman who brought her life. My mom suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s at the time, and I thought I should remember her the same way. Although she would have hated having her secrets exposed, the book is a fitting tribute because my mother was the first person to suggest I become an author, like it was a real possibility, not to mention a real profession. (Be careful what you wish for!) She also inadvertently inspired me by reading, all the time. My mom always had a novel in hand and she taught me that people respected and admired authors. I disappointed my father by not embracing the security of the insurance industry, but maybe it’s not too late for my recently-deceased mother’s approval. I miss you, Mom. We just said goodbye but I wish we had all those years we lost.
Three?” said the host as he picked up the thick menus. “Follow me.”
“Can we get a table instead of a booth?” my father asked. I hate tables, he hates booths.
We got to the table at the center of the dining room. I pulled out my chair and it hit the chair behind it. “Sorry,” I said, as I squeezed into my seat, my belly inches from our table. I grabbed a menu and surveyed it. Pizza burger, well done. A busboy filled our water glasses.
My father retrieved his reading glasses from his shirt pocket, held the menu at arm’s length, glanced at it and shut it. “What are you getting?” I asked.
“BLT. Without the mayo. Mayo puts on the pounds. Remember that.”
My mother also donned her reading glasses and opened the many-leafed menu. She looked at the first page. The waiter came over. “Can I start get you some drinks?” he asked, pad poised.
“I’ll just have water,” my father said.
“Can I have a Diet Pepsi, please?” I said.
“We have Coke.”
“I’ll have a Seven-Up,” my mom said.
I examined the map of Greece on the placemat. Touched Athens, been there; touched Delphi, been there; touched Sparta, haven’t been there, but that’s where Yaya came from. Looked in the northern part of Greece for Trikala, my dad’s homeland. I never found it on these menus. Too small, I guessed. Just like Mahopac. Doesn’t even show up on the map.
My mother turned the page, squinted, frowned. I looked up, surveyed the other people in the dining room. Families, mostly. After church crowd. I spotted a family laughing, teasing each other. I wanted to watch them more closely but I didn’t want to get caught. We never laugh like that. What do those kids talk about with their parents? My father stared into space. My mother turned the page again. “What are you gonna have, Viki?” my dad asked, impatient.
“I don’t know. I don’t see anything,” she said, holding the menu out farther.
The waiter approached with our drinks, set them down, “What can I get you?” he asked, pen poised.
“I need a few more minutes,” my mom said.
“Ok.” He left.
Thought about the report I’d put off until today. I hate Sundays. I looked down at the map again. I miss crayons. I know I’m too old for them but at least I’d have something to do. I looked around some more, studied the pastry-go-round. Oh, that big chocolate one looks yummy. Is that real whipped cream? Mom and Dad hate buttercream.
The waiter came back, “Are we ready to order?” he asked my mother.
“Oh, uh, ask them first,” my mother said.
He looked at my father, “BLT on white toast.”
My turn, “Pizza burger with fries.”
“How would you like that cooked?”
He looked at my mother. “What can I get you?”
She sighed as she closed her menu. “I’ll just have two eggs over easy.”
“White, wheat, or rye toast?”
“Oh…I don’t know…rye.”
“Jim, I want to go to Caldor’s and pick up some detergent. It’s on sale,” she said.
“Yes, I want to make sure they don’t run out. Last time I got there on a Monday and it was gone. I hate rainchecks.”
“Ok, after we eat,” he said.
I looked around at the other families. One of the booth’s jukeboxes played a song. I strained to hear. “Jessie’s Girl.” They never let me play the jukebox at the diner. Even if we wound up in a booth. Dad only likes Dixieland and Mom doesn’t like prerecorded music. “Why listen to that when you can play your own?” was her reasoning.
“Ok, pizza burger, BLT on toast, and eggs over easy. Is there anything else I can get you?” the waiter asked.
“More coffee,” my father said.
“More water, please,” I said.
He left to fetch the pitchers. Mom poked her fork into her egg.
“What is it, Viki?” my dad asked.
“These eggs are too done,” she said, pushing the plate away. “I can’t eat this.”
The waiter returned and poured my dad’s coffee.
“Excuse me,” my mom said, “These eggs are too done. Can you get me some that are softer?”
“Of course,” the waiter said. “Softer.”
“Yes, please,” my mom said with a whole-body sigh.
“It may take a few minutes, but I’ll get them out as soon as I can.”
He picked up her plate and left.
“Oh well,” my mother said. “Now I have to wait.”
My dad and I dug in.
I had one bite left when the waiter came back. My dad’s plate boasted a few crumbs. “Here we are, two eggs over easy, soft-cooked,” the waiter said, placing her plate on the table.
“Thank you,” my mom said. She picked up her fork and looked at the waiter over her shoulder.
“Are they ok?” he asked.
She took a bite, “Yes. They’re fine. Thank you.”
“Will there be anything else?” he asked.
“You can take these,” my dad said, waving at our plates. He picked them up and left.
We drank our coffee and Diet Coke.
“You don’t have to watch me eat,” mom said. “I hate when people watch me eat.”
We turned our faces to the windows to wait.
“Check, please?” my father pointed to his palm as the waiter walked by.
“Jim, I’m not done!” Mom said.
“Well, let’s go, Vicki. You wanted to go to Caldor’s.”
“Well, if we’re in such a rush, then I’m done.” She’d eaten half an egg.
“Eat, Vicki, eat. The check isn’t here yet,” my father said.
“No, I’m done,” she said, pushing her plate away and putting her napkin back on the table. The waiter slapped the check on the table and my father picked it up, looked at it, pulled out his wallet, did some calculations, then tucked a few dollars under the sugar dispenser.
“Ok, you ready?” I picked up my jacket, my mother got her sweater, and we followed him to the register.
“Was everything ok, sir,” the host asked in his thick Greek accent.
“Yes, yes, efharisto. Everything was fine.”
If you’re interested, Natalie Goldberg will be the keynote speaker at the Write on the Sound writer’s conference in Edmonds October 1-3. In the interest of full disclosure, I sit on the WOTS board.
Two weeks ago, Matt took Rose to Virginia for a family funeral. We got the call Friday morning. Matt’s grandmother died. She was 92 and declining, but we didn’t know when she’d go. Immediately we looked up flights to Virginia. No one knew the specifics yet, so we didn’t book. Friday afternoon I realized that I’d scheduled my amniocentesis appointment during this unexpected trip. I would change it, I said. My place was with my family. The receptionist made me cry twice just trying to book appointments already, but I’d deal with her and we’d all go to Virginia. Then Matt reminded me that our vacation would start the week we got back, leaving me only three potential days to reschedule. Gallantly, he offered to take Rose to Virginia and leave me at home for my test. “Ridiculous,” I said, “That’s too much for you.” He insisted he could handle it. Hmm, I thought, as the reality of the situation dawned, “Let me call you back.”
I settled in bed upside down, looking out at the woods, my meditative stance. If Matt left with Rose, I’d be here alone. Alone! I could write whenever I wanted; I could nap when I felt like it, not just with Rose; I could leave the house by myself without taking the time to strap a kid in the car seat. How long has it been since I had such freedom? Let’s see, Rose was born two-and-a-half years ago, so that would make it um, two and a half years. I can’t even remember a life like that. Huh. Could Matt really handle Rose by himself? They don’t get much father-daughter time. But he has a tendency to lose his temper and yell at her. Can I leave my baby with him without my protection? Shit, if I’m asking that, why am I having another baby with this guy? I think he yells at her because he’s got less experience with her. Maybe a crash course is just what he needs.
I called Matt back. “I think you should take her,” I told him. “We can’t deprive your mom of her grandchild at this difficult time. I think seeing Rose would be really good for her. I think it would help her focus on the future and take some of the pain away,” I sold.
“Ok. My mom should call with the arrangements at three,” he said.
I hung up with a whole new outlook. Freedom! What am I gonna do with myself? I made a list of all the things I wanted to do while they were gone.
4. Go out alone
6. Out with the girls
7. Go to a bar
8. Play pool
A few hours later, the phone interrupted my reverie. “I spoke to Mom and she doesn’t think it’s such a good idea. Without you there, there’s no one to watch Rose during the funeral. My grandmother asked her grandsons to be pallbearers so I’ll be doing that. Mom will be too broken up to take care of her and she can’t think of anyone who’ll watch her. She doesn’t think she’ll be in the mood to visit afterwards either.” I knew it was too good to be true.
“So you want me to keep her here?” I sniffled. My voice broke. “Ok. I guess that’s all we can do.”
“Listen to you! You want me to call mom back? If it’s that important to you I will.”
“What’s she going to do? She told you not to take her. There’s nothing we can do. Oh well, I’ve never had a break and I guess I never will,” I said, as tears warmed my cheeks.
“I think you need this break,” he said.
“No, it’s ok. I didn’t expect it to really happen. I’ll take her.” I hung up on him. I sobbed as Rose napped in her room. I couldn’t stop. I hoped she’d sleep until I could get out of bed. I cried myself to sleep and Rose didn’t wake up until six p.m.
Matt walked in a half hour later. “I’m gonna take her. You need this break.”
“Did you talk to your mom?”
“No, but she’ll just have to deal.”
“Oh. Ok. Thanks, Honey.”
I still didn’t think it would happen, but the next phone call yielded better results. Grandma looked forward to seeing Rose and she’d found a babysitter for the funeral.
The day they left, I watched my babies go. Rose and I had never been separated overnight, and now she and Matt would be gone for four whole days. My throat tightened and tears flowed and as Daddy and daughter got in the cab. I watched the car turn onto the main road and disappear. I cried for the next 15 minutes. The house was quiet. Nothing new. It’s always quiet after the babysitter picks Rose up, but then she comes back three and a half hours later and chaos resumes. This time she wasn’t coming back.
Wow. Giddy with excitement, I could hardly focus on work. But I had to, so I bore down. I actually worked an extra hour because I didn’t have to stop with Rose’s return. But ugh, I thought, what a waste of freedom. Not gonna do that again. I must be careful with my time during this furlough. It’s a once in a lifetime gift that I can’t squander.
The sun shone, the thermometer clocked in at 67 degrees. Wow, what a great day to read on the deck and work in the garden, I thought. But right now I’m kind of tired. I crawled into bed. Three hours later I felt a renewal I hadn’t experienced since my childless days. I guess I sleep better alone in the house. The sun still shone and I could have gone out to the garden, but I felt mellow, so I sat in my 0G deck chair and read magazines. Our roommate came home and helped make dinner. He was flying out the next morning. We ate, watched TV and retired early.
The next morning I revisited my must-do list, determined to make this break count. I scheduled a massage for late afternoon. Pleased, I worked another few hours, this time punching out a half hour late. Dammit, got to stop that, I thought. I was determined to write that day, but after spending so much time at the computer, I needed a break. I lay down. Three hours later, I awoke to the alarm. I had set it to make sure I didn’t miss my massage. I drove to the massage place and ohhhhhh, was that nice! Relaxed, I picked up a few things from Rite-Aid and headed home. I settled on the couch. Mmmm, movie would be nice. I started “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Two” and mellowed out. It finished at bedtime.
I had my amnio appointment the next morning. They recommended that I had a ride, so my friend Jayne drove. Jayne dropped me off at the doctor’s on time but they made me wait an hour. Annoyed, I posted complaints on Facebook and emailed my best friend from my mobile phone. Important test, yes, but they were still wasting my day of freedom. They finally took me. I had three separate appointments and two-and-a-half hours later, at lunchtime, I was done. Jayne picked me up and dropped me at home. No cramping, but my belly did feel tender, especially when I stood up or sat down. I called Matt to report that I’d made it through and we chatted. I missed him. But not Rose, I noted guiltily.
Starving and craving salad with red onions, I went out and picked up lunch. Had to get my own red onion to slice into the salad, but I finally ate, then felt like stretching out. I sprawled on the couch and turned on the TV. It was another nice day – perfect to garden, but they told me to take it easy. I tried to order “Julie and Julia” several times, and after a call to Comcast and a remote signal from the technician, I realized that we never had Starz in the first place. Another hour of freedom wasted. So I surfed the channels awhile and then I felt more like being in bed.
Three hours later, I awoke but I still felt sore, so I went back to the couch. But the sunshine’s siren song called to me. I read on the deck. At dinnertime, I settled on the couch and ordered “I Love You, Man.” Finished it and went to bed.
Thursday. My last day of freedom. I looked at my list. Massage, check. Out by myself, check. Read, check. Sleep, check, check, check! Write? Not one character. Garden? Nope. Play pool? Nope, but not a big deal. Out with the girls? No time left. Go to a bar? Without company and alcohol, eh. Ok, so today I must write and I must garden. Come to think of it, I can garden with the family at home, but I can’t touch the computer with Rose around, so I’ll just write.
After I signed off work, I felt a little sleepy. After all, my tummy still twinged and I should take it easy, right? I didn’t work any overtime so I should have had time to nap and write afterwards. So I clicked on “The Golden Girls” and took a nap. Didn’t fall asleep right away and by the time I did, I had to set the alarm so I could make it to a preschool open house. I got up, ate some dinner, felt really sore and horrible, decided to skip the open house, and rested a bit. I did feel well enough to go after a half hour, so I did. Without Rose, the preview took all of 15 minutes. Then it was time for the airport. I picked up some pizza and headed down. Spent my last moments of freedom in the cell phone lot, eating pizza and listening to stand up comedy on the radio. Then, with a sigh, I headed toward Arrivals. My baby didn’t even run to me, poised to hug, as I’d pictured. She just sat in her car seat and said “Mommy! We went in the elevator!” And my freedom was over.
Despite the disappointment with what I’d failed to accomplish, I did enjoy my little vacation. I try to tell myself that I really needed some rest, more than I knew. I can’t remember the last time I just did nothing. Even when we’re just watching TV at night, there’s always something – fold Rose’s laundry, brush her teeth, plan meals, make the grocery list – something. Since the onset of parenthood, I’m never able to let it all go and chill. I consoled myself by thinking of those sage words from the Rolling Stones: “If you try sometime, you might find, you can get what you need.” But those are four writing days I’ll never get back. And in September I’ll be mommy to two. I doubt I’ll ever see another day of freedom. But I have a feeling that those memories of legendary rest will stick with me, and I’ll reminisce about those four days for a very long time.