by Elizabeth Beller
It’s been a long, dark, stormy winter. Like primitives finally able to leave their cave for the first time in months, I return home and see all the accrued grime with fresh eyes. It’s time for spring cleaning. Since I don’t have the time to do a thorough scrub down of the house, I’m going to tackle all my own less than sparkling personal issues. If I could just throw my Id, Ego and Superego in the washer with several cups of bleach I would. But as that’s not an option, I’ll have to sit down and stand some introspection. Dang.
I’m going to make more effort so see friends. It’s palpable relief when I see a pal and can recall a B.C (before children) self through conversation, comraderie or just booze. Usually everyone’s schedule takes precedence over mine: Daddy has to work, and then must unwind from work, Sister has dance, playdates and her school needs volunteers. Little brother needs one on one time and his mommy in general. But for the good of my long term mental health, I’m going to go out, drink and talk too much as soon as possible.
This will be good for them in the long run, because I’ll be happier. And what’s that trite phrase about happy babies…napping mommies? I can’t remember it. Because my intellectual abilities have gone to pot. I used to read. I used to have interests other than the logistics of a household and the sleeping, eating and pooping patterns of the inhabitants of said household. I would take classes for fun, go to a lecture and see most museum exhibits in the area. I make an effort to do these things even less than I get out to see my friends. The attention span is shot, akin to a housefly’s. If I am lucky, I’ll read half a Huffington Post article on my iPhone at 11pm before I pass out.
No more, no more! I will make time to read, see films rated PG13 and above, and try to at least be aware of readings in town. This would probably be a boon for my marriage as well. I am lucky to have good one, but my poor husband would probably like to talk to the woman he decided to propose to once in a while. He is just as focused on the kids so it makes my consumption with their lives a bonding experience. But inevitably some of that consumption takes away from my consumption with him. He’s still the most interesting man I’ve ever met, but he doesn’t cry and throw himself on the floor if I’ve not paid him enough attention that day. Not always, anyway.
And we’ve never gone away together without the kids. Mostly circumstantial: both our parents are elderly enough that we could not leave them alone with our rambunctious hooligans. Plus the boy is still nursing, and until I wean him it would be hell on whoever had to get him to sleep at night unless Playtex comes up with a bottle that looks exactly like my breasts.
But no more!! I’m going to make more time for the good man and plan a getaway. The guilt of this should be alleviated if I take good stock of my parenting techniques and practice more mindful parenting that I’ve known I should implement for years. My goal is to never yell. Yes, my six year old daughter often doesn’t hear me over her renditions of Jay Z which she practices morning, noon and night, but I’m going to keep my voice calm at all times. I’m not going to stress out when they’re sick. That doesn’t help anyone them, me, my husband or the poor pediatricians who should be required to have a secondary PhD in Parental Psychosis. And I’m going to do all this now, carpe diem, even before I wean my boy and can achieve some of these goals with the new and improved Mother’s Little Helper called Ativan.
Want to know how?
APRIL FOOLS. I’m not really going to start doing any of these things until the kids are bigger, I can sleep more, and I can get my hands on that Ativan. I’ll make some stabs, and probably some slight progress. But because I’m human, I’ll continue to treat these days as though we are crawling through the trenches, simply keeping my head down to avoid enemy and friendly fire. Not to say I won’t cherish these times. Don’t many soldiers have some of the best times of their life amongst some of the worst? Keep Calm and Mommy On.