Contradiction in Terms

For all the bitching I do about taking care of my children, I stood listless on my porch this afternoon as I watched them drive away with their grandparents.

When you take away the main reason for my modus operandi, where does that leave me?

A skiff adrift, a compass needle with no magnetic pull, a mother with empty arms and a quiet mind.

I stood there for a moment, thinking I should literally be jumping for joy as I face down a weekend alone with my husband.  But I couldn’t get past the immediate feeling of ache.  A dull feeling somewhere around my solar plexus as I watch my babies leave.

They waved, and beeped, and yelled goodbye out the window.

And then I thought, okay, now what do I do with these hands, now idle, but so out of practice.  The hands and mind forget what it’s like to do something other than the constant care of children.

But once I allowed the thought in, my mind raced with possibilities.  I can write on the deck under the umbrella!  I can read in the sun.  I can put my feet up and have a nice cool drink.

What did I do?

I finished the laundry I’d started before they left.  I unpacked the schoolbags they’d forgotten about in their rush out the door.  I swept the crumbs they’d left under the table at dinner last night.

Giving me time off is an exercise in futility, no?

No.

Remember when your child was an infant and that hour during which they slept and the floor clear of squeak toys and random detritus was like heaven?  And then they woke up and flung everything from its cute little basket and all over the floor all over again?

Now imagine a larger child.  Now multiple that by three.  Now multiple that cute little basket into one huge mess of stuff.  All over the house.

This weekend is like that nap.  If I can clear all the stuff away now as soon as possible after their departure, I can enjoy a house free of gak for that much longer.  And I rushed around and did it as quickly as I could so I could still get to my laptop and get some writing in before my husband came home.

Time with the hubby is sublime.  But it’s also nice to feed our own soul.

What do we go to first?  How do we prioritize when every item on the list is important?  Dabble in a little of each so we can appreciate each in its contrast?  I don’t rightly know.  Hell, the one time I clean the house is when I should be eating freakin’ bon-bons while soaking in the bathtub.

I miss myself when the kids are here.  I miss my babies when they’re gone.  I miss quiet conversations (I’d even go for simply uninterrupted) with my husband.  I miss doing whatever the hell I want because no one is demanding anything of me.

I am a contradiction in terms.  And I have a whole weekend off to celebrate it.

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17 Comments

  1. Little Mighty

     /  May 17, 2013

    To “hell” with contradiction. Just enjoy yourself while you can. The children will be having a good time with their grandparents, so why shouldn’t you. Don’t worry about what is or has been missed, just live in the wonderful, uninterrupted moments while you can. You’ll miss them, they’ll miss you, but you’ll all be the better for it. ENJOY!!!

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 18, 2013

      Tell me how you really feel! Love to see you fired up! No contradictions there!

      And it is great advice!

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  2. I’d paste the youtube clip of the parents celebrating the kids going off to Camp Krusty but alas cannot find it.

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  3. I understand, part of your identity goes with you; we are always on the porch waving by by to some fragment of self, or some strong piece of cloth; continual adjustment; I am unusually busy but have bronchitis, and I experience life review as sitting on a grey rock, always have to readjust; hugs

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 18, 2013

      Do you think we’re saying goodbye to a strong piece of cloth? If it’s going by the wayside, would it have weakened the tapestry anyway? (Not applicable in watching my children drive away, of course!) When you describe ‘life review as sitting on a grey rock’, do you mean to say that it’s a depressing activity?

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  4. Totally understand. Hope you had some relaxing time whether it be under that umbrella or cleaning. (Cleaning can be relaxing if the environment lets it. For me anyway.)

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 18, 2013

      Thank you! And glad I’m not alone! And I totally agree that cleaning can be relaxing as a chaotic environment is certainly not good for one’s chi!

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  5. I have no children but this still makes total sense to me. :\

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 19, 2013

      Trying to prioritize, taking time for oneself? Or not being able to relax even if you do? Why is it so hard?

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  6. I have to laugh at the whole thing sometimes. I often don’t know what to do first.
    What I finally came up with was throwing up my hands–letting everything fall and then doing whatever…seemed to pick what was most important. I still practice this..letting the pieces fall- I call it. I never used to be able to deal with a sink of dishes and clean laundry left for days before my daughter. And it is hard to want to have time with my husband when I haven’t had my own time. It gets kind of funny to me. I used to work hard to get a break from my daughter. Then I found it is more of a break sometimes to just let her play and take a little break taking pictures or writing …or whatever.
    Much love-
    Laurie
    Thanks for your visits.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 20, 2013

      We do have to take it when we can get it, eh? Still trying to figure out that balance – obviously!

      I’m such a visual person, I’m picturing you actually throwing pieces of paper in the air with an option written on each. I probably would have to do that to ‘stick’ to my decision!

      And the husband/self topic is a whole ‘nother post!

      Thanks for your thoughts.

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      • I love visualization. Thanks so much for the note 🙂
        My daughter and I had a rough start this morning but we are learning we can get back on track quickly.
        It’s not always as graceful as I would like, but we’re getting it I think. Still buried in clutter. But my little daughter was singing on the way to preschool after our rough start.

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      • I love visualization. Thanks so much for the note 🙂
        My daughter and I had a rough start this morning but we are learning we can get back on track quickly.
        It’s not always as graceful as I would like, but we’re getting it I think. Still buried in clutter. But my little daughter was singing on the way to preschool after our rough start.

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  7. I totally understand. My husband and I never get ‘alone’ time, and on the rare occasions that we might go out to dinner by ourselves, we talk about the kids! How does that work???

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 20, 2013

      I heard somewhere (probably some ridiculous reality TV show) that couples need to place a moratorium on kid-talk when they do have a dinner out. I remember running this through my head one time, with the mental hand over my mouth. And I thought, why place another constraint on myself? Maybe it’s something important or noteworthy that needs to be mentioned and this is the only time it can be heard. And we created the children together; of course we want to celebrate them. But it does need to stop at some point. I often need to ‘info-dump’ or process some stuff first before I can totally relax and enjoy the moment.

      Here’s to more of those rare occasions!

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