Time Out

Saoirse and Quinn are signed up for a handful of mini “camps” at their local MyGym–basically, they’re hour-and-a-half-long play classes wherein the teachers barricade the doors, lock the parents out, run the kiddos around till they’re panting, then load up their blood sugar again with a snack right before they unlock the doors and relinquish the wound-up sweatballs unto their parents.

Needless to say, this will be the highlight of SK’s summer. The women (and by “women,” I mean the absolutely adorable 20-something twins whom I want to kidnap and make my sisters because I do admire them so) who run the place suggested I sign up Quinn, as well, even though I was concerned she’d be a little too young for it, but alas, the child bolted into the play area at drop-off and didn’t look back until she needed a ride home.

As for me? Well, I had grand plans when I thought about these five days–a total of seven and a half hours!!–I would have to myself. I mean, this is the first time, ever, during the course of my “work” day where I don’t have both girls under my care without needing to run to a hair appointment or the doctor’s office or something else mind-numbingly obligatory. I mean, the first time. EVER. Those little wheels in my head spun. I was giddy. I cackled. I danced my fingers against each other like some sinister villain with a pencil-thin mustache in some old Western. What should I do? What should I doooooo?! Run errands, by myself? I could actually get all of them finished without dealing with carseats and buckles and snacks and “Mommy, I want down!” Or go back to the house and get some cleaning done–actually be able to make headway without the trail that usually follows me from room to room, as small children tear apart what I just put back together? See if a friend wants to get together so we can chat? So many choices! So many possibilities.

Yeah. Forget all that. I went to a coffee shop and read a book for an hour.

Not a Dunkin Donuts. Not a Starbucks. Nah, they’re too busy. I went instead to a local, neighborhood cafe largely patronized by wealthy retirees wearing capris and too much makeup and 40-something homemakers in ponytails and workout clothes. I wouldn’t know anybody there, I knew. And at that odd hour of the morning, I had the place to myself.

And it was wonderful. I positioned myself by the window, away from other eyes, gathered my cup (a real mug! Not a take-out container. A REAL MUG.) and scone about me, and hunkered down. Yes, I could’ve read at home, but at home there are chores, and a floor that needs vacuumed. This was neutral territory. I was in Switzerland, baby. Neeeuuuu-tral.

I distinctly remember some of my evenings with David so many years ago. We’d just moved to this area from Baltimore, and were renting a townhouse while we saved for this home. It must’ve been summertime, because I didn’t have any grading or planning to do (I was working two teaching jobs at the time–full-time for a high school and part-time at a college, so you fellow teachers know how it goes. And by “how it goes” I mean, dear Lord will the stacks of paper ever get any smaller?!?). And I just remember how those evening hours stretched out forever–I also remember watching a lot of “House Hunters” at the time. A LOT. of House Hunters. But I remember thinking, oh, we could totally have a baby right now. We have all the time in the world, I thought.

Yes, I hear you laughing.

I’m so not used to having spare time to myself, I actually got bored yesterday morning at that coffee shop. Bored. Because think about it–even if you sit down with a magazine for a little while while the toddler naps and the older daughter plays, you’re still operating on a time limit–okay, in 10 minutes I’ll fold that laundry and tackle those bills. I read every night before bed, but that’s no fun, either, because I’ll end up glancing at the clock and think either Oh, I’ll just give myself 15 more minutes or Ack! Where did the time go?!. Tell me I’m not the only one, right? Everything is scheduled. What happened to the days where there wasn’t always something to do?

I ended up being ten minutes early to pick up the girls from camp. Any of my friends will tell you that I am never early. For anything. I was even 15 minutes late to my own wedding, though to my credit, that wasn’t my fault–I was ready and raring to go on time, but the limo driver got lost on the way to the church (it was a drive that should’ve taken three city blocks, by the way. Yeah, we could’ve walked. But heavy wedding dress + shellacked hair + Baltimore humidity = I don’t think so.). But I was early to see my girls. And happy, too.

I guess it’s the pitfalls of being with your kids all day. When you don’t have them with you you sort of don’t know how to handle yourself when you’re alone. The car ride is definitely a lot quieter, that’s for sure.

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