Two weeks ago, I was settling into my typical Sunday evening activities. Straightening the house, throwing in the last load of laundry, sitting down with a snack, turning on Real Housewives, and painting my nails. I was about to spend the week at home with the little girls, and thus, my need to get everything tidied up before the beginning of the week was lessened. I’d have all week, I reasoned, to do anything and everything my heart might desire. I had grand plans to clean this house as it’s never been cleaned, to write each and every day, to organize my house and my office files, to clean-up the online system I use for work, plans to do all sorts of things that would make my life a piece of cake when I returned to work a week later.
I quickly learned that being a stay-at-home mom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The beginning of the week proved to be a challenge. Between driving here and driving there, dropping kids here, picking them up there, arranging play dates here, and sleepovers there, I could barely concentrate on any one thing before having to jump back into the car. How on earth does one keep their sanity, or get anything done, when they are the Julie McCoy, and the cab driver, and the personal assistant, to their children, 24/7?! As the week wore on, however, we got into a groove and I found myself better able to manage it all.
Meal planning, mid-day trips to the empty grocery store, in-person registration for their activities instead of frantic phone calls, afternoon trips to the movies. I started to…dare I say…master the whole stay-at-home mom thing (as much as one can in just a few days…and while still answering frantic work emails and calls amongst it all). By Friday afternoon when they went back to their other family we’d had so much fun, and done so many fun things, it was so sad to see them go. But because we’d been so active the entire week, my husband and I kept up the momentum, and we had a fabulous weekend.
There was Friday night, when (I’m assuming because for once I shared a cigar with my husband instead of just fanning away the smoke) I had the best golf game of my life. And Saturday, when, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner and then went dancing until the wee hours of the morning with good friends (I never EVER do that anymore!). And on Sunday I went horseback riding with one of my girlfriends. It was the perfect end to a lovely week of vacation.
Then there was Monday. Back at work. And honestly, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Because…I really just wanted to be the Julie McCoy, and the cab driver, and the personal assistant to my children, 24/7. Wait…what?! How is it even possible that one week, a mere five days, could have made me want that?! I spent the week catching up on my emails and everything I’d missed. We had a full weekend planned and I was starting to dread it. I felt like I needed time to recuperate from my week back at work. Quality time to spend with the little girls. Another chance to slow down the pace a bit and just be around home.
I raced home through rush hour traffic on Friday knowing I’d promised the little girls a spa night with pizza. I was wishing I hadn’t done so…I was tired and it was getting late. I got home, threw the pizza in the oven, threw-in a movie for the little girls to watch, and started sifting through the face mask recipes I’d found earlier in the day. I sent my husband to the grocery store for cucumbers (what’s a spa night without cucumber slices on the eyes). All the while texting my girlfriend Aych about the 5k we’d planned to run the next morning…with our little girls. Texts like “don’t you hate it when you get home on Friday night and the plans you have just feel like a lot of work?” And “the run is sounding rather early tomorrow…but I’m sure we’ll have fun?” I think if either of us had said “let’s bail” the other would have enthusiastically said “yes please!” But neither of us did.
The little girls and I first laid back with cucumbers on our eyes. Then we mixed up an oatmeal face mask (that, aside from photo ops, left a lot to be desired). I put them to bed with refreshed faces and plans to get up early for their very first 5k.
We’d intended to practice. I’ve taken the little girls on my training runs but they always ride bikes while I run. We have a perfect circle in our neighborhood that, when run twice, is exactly a 5k. It would have been easy to practice…but…we didn’t. Bright and early on Saturday morning we made our way to the 5k. The little girls had so many questions but they were excited. The weather was perfect. This particular 5k was perfect. There would be “art stops” at which we could dip our hands and/or feet in paint and add our tag to large canvasses. It would be laid back and a fabulous introduction to 5ks for the little girls.
It was clear early on that practice would have helped. We took many breaks to walk and took full advantage of the “art stops.” It didn’t take long before the little girls started complaining of being tired. As other runners began to lap us, Aych and I decided that it would be just fine to only do one of the two loops of the course. It was still, after all, an introduction to a 5k.
It still got them excited and made them feel proud (they even got race shirts!). And it still showed them, as Aych and I have been talking about for a couple of years now, how important it is to be involved in community events and to be active. The race organizers were kind enough to stretch out ribbon for us to run through as we completed our one and only lap. After all of my b-tching and moaning…I was so glad we did it instead of sleeping in.
Our weekend continued with school clothes shopping (one of my favorite things ever) as a family. We always start with inventory, figuring out what we need and in what colors, determining what is passed down to my littlest little girl and then to the little girl of one of our family friends. Then we went to the little girls’ favorite store and my husband and I pulled clothes like stylists. Both little girls left feeling so pleased with their new clothes and we felt so grateful that we are able to pull this off every fall and spring.
Last night we went to see a concert in the bandshell at a lake. We got dressed up, headed to the city, and met up with friends. The kids played at the park until the music started, we ate too much ice cream, and we visited with each other and with my family (because the concert was that of my dad!). And we sat in perfect Minnesota weather, listening to music, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
This afternoon my husband and I were sitting in the house while the little girls and their friends sat in our back yard on a blanket under a tree writing songs. He was working on his laptop and I was finally finishing a book I’ve been reading for a month. Classical music was playing softly, the breeze swept in one window and out another…and…you know when you say something out loud without even having been thinking about it and you wonder where it came from? I said without thinking “I never want to leave this place.” My husband looked at me quizzically. We’d soon be leaving for a friend’s son’s birthday party. That wasn’t what I meant, though. In the past couple of weeks (since my vacation) we’ve done so many fabulous things as a family and as a couple. I often shy away from making too many plans because it feels like work and I like the little girls to be able to lay low. We’ve somehow found this balance between staying close to home and participating in events and/or activities that are important to the kind of people we are and the kind of people we hope our little girls become. And frankly? It’s been lovely. Despite the fact that I sometimes get a little obsessed with things I want to change about myself, or things I wish I did better, or how I wish we could attack this or that project in our house, the fact of the matter is that I feel so lucky to be right here, right now, and I’m pretty pleased with the life that my husband and I have built for ourselves and our little girls. I don’t ever want to leave this place of happiness and peace.
TODAY: What if it sometimes takes a vacation to remind me what it means to actively participate in life? What if, once and a while, I take a peak around and revel in this fabulous life we’re lucky to be living?