Can I confess something to you? Some days I glance at the clock and its 3pm, and I look around my office noticing my long to-do list staring at me and picture the goings on at home. I have yet to get there, of course, and some days I have already been to work twice once after dropping off Sophia at school and again after I picked her up at noon and delivered her back home.
Rewind four years ago when I would walk into my office anytime before 9:30 AM, spend my lunch hour (I actually had a full lunch hour back then) catching up with friends over salad and unsweetened iced tea and came home to cook dinner at leisure. I slept in whenever I wanted to on the weekends and it wasn’t unusual for Evan and me to spend the day watching movies, playing board games, going out or anything else that we decided to do … just on a whim. Date night used to occur on any evening and sometimes, on a beautiful fall or spring day, I would pick up a coffee and just walk around the city taking it all in. Those were life’s little luxuries.
These days, I am needed almost every hour of the day. Who else is going to pack Sophia’s snacks, pick out her outfit, put her hair into pony tails, serve fresh-made ricotta pancakes for breakfast, change diapers, wash clothes, build fortresses and princess castles out of blocks and keep little Eliza from climbing every surface of the house? That’s before and after work, too. I’ll be the first to admit that my life is quite un-luxurious these days.
While I, like most other mothers/parents, have certainly lost a lot of my freedoms to the demands of mothering young children, I still cling to a very tiny subset of luxuries. These are the moments that I hold on to dearly on the days when life’s a little too chaotic. These luxuries provide small flashes of sheer delight and in doing so recharge my human batteries.
Every day when the kids go to sleep, I reach the pitch dark kitchen, turn on one small light, exhale and wash up the kids sippy cups. I wipe the counters and plan what I will do with the next hour of my life. Often times, I will wash up some fruit, sit down in my bedroom, put my feet up and read the news while snacking on whatever is in season.
Every morning after I drop off Sophia at school, I call my mom, we talk and I share the latest/greatest on what the kids are up to. Not every evening, but many evenings, Evan will take the kids to the pier for an hour. As soon as they have left, I rush around packing snacks and cleaning up after dinner so that I have just a little bit of time to unwind. Then, I pour a glass of water and call a friend. We don’t connect with people anymore so I am changing that one call at a time.
These days, I am focusing more on little and less on luxury. I steal these moments unabashedly, fight for them, rationalize that the hour excursion which Evan takes the kids is good for them and absolutely necessary for me. That one hour will make me a better mom for the rest of the evening, the rest of the week. How? I am not sure. It simply does.
Motherhood is seasonal; it is always changing and at times, we find ourselves with many freedoms and at times with none at all. There were times when (especially when the kids were infants), I couldn’t leave them for two hours and there are times when I have left them for a day knowing full well that they’re fine and that I will be, too. Perhaps the best part of motherhood is learning to balance, to be selfless, to put other beings before yourself but not forgetting yourself either.