I just had my biggest summer revelation of 2011: I have not been alone since May 27th, the day my children were released from school. I guess that’s a small lie, since I have been alone three times actually. Twice I went to shadow my friend who is a Physicians Assistant, and once I had to do some other errands for my upcoming semester of Nursing School. Okay, now that the truth’s been told, does being away from one’s children three times in a whole summer seem normal to anyone else? Anyone?
The revelation was startling yesterday. It happened at Wal-mart as Will, Faith, and I locked hands in the heat and walked to our car. I never even go to Wal-mart, mostly because I hate it, but thought I’d take some time to be smart and do a little comparision shopping for school supplies. A. Their prices were no better than Target, and B. Checker #11 didn’t know my name like Shan over at Supertarget, nor did she tickle my children. As we walked on the hot, black asphalt with our small purchase, the heat caused my children to groan and complain like I imagine animals living in the Sahara Desert or Arkansas, might do. I reached into my imaginary bag of encouraging motherly comments, and realized the bag was empty. I’d used them all up over the course of our exciting summer of camping, swimming, biking, movies, going for ice cream, and your plain ole’ run of the mill fun.
And since I like to keep it real with you, I think I should tell you my other summer revelation, partially thanks to Will who is six, and more observant than most. The bottom line is this: I am not aging well at all. Especially from the neck up. Will described it like this, “Mommy, you look like salami”.
Last night when all five of us were home again, and all seemed right with the world, I called Billy outside to sit with me on the swing in our backyard. Normally as we swing we talk about happy things like Smashburger, kittens, or cute things the children said. Not last night though. It was a family business meeting and this CMO—Chief Mother Officer—needed to let her partner know she needed a day off.
Billy is a smart man. He saw the desperation in my eyes right away. He listened and spoke calmly to me, like I imagine one might respond to a bear in the wild who was ready to rip someone’s head off. The man gathered the necessary information, and went directly to work. He came back within minutes with a list of fun and cheap activities he could take the children to next Saturday, in order to give his gal a little “me time”.
Instantly the guilt washed over me, as I thought about them being away from me for more than two full hours. What if they need me? What if someone scrapes their knee? Will Billy remember the Neosporin and bandaids? Will he talk about me in a positive light, or refer only to me as “crazy mommy” when they wonder aloud why I stayed home. It’s only three weeks until the children and I are back to school, and now I’m not sure I want to be away from them for even five minutes. I’ll have to re-think this whole plan, maybe over a bowl of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit. And chocolate.
In the end I think I’ll let Billy take the kids on an adventure without me. They will have fun together, bond, make memories, and maybe even miss me for the few hours they are away. Fathers need to be as much a presence in their kids lives as mothers, right? Perhaps the alone time will help me find some new encouraging phrases to put in my imaginary bag, and re-energize me enough to face a very hectic Fall schedule. If nothing else, I’ll just sit on my swing in the backyard, and wait patiently for the garage door to open. They will run all over the house yelling for me, fighting already as to who will tell me about their adventure first. We’ll sit together and talk for a bit, and by the end of the night we’ll be huddled up on the couch watching The Cosby Show on Netflix. A pretty sweet ending to what might be a quiet day.