The morning begins like any other with the typical chaos of one disheveled mother sprinting throughout the house, trying to organize backpacks and lunches before anyone awakes.
Dragging lethargic kids out of bed, refereeing fights between bickering siblings, and force-feeding the kids breakfast were just a few of the early morning activities on the agenda.
And for the first time in TEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS, I was going to be “kid-free” and on my own for 6.5 hours.
The excitement had been building for weeks. For me, that is. Yet I never let on to the children just how much so. And on a daily basis, my overwhelming enthusiasm will continue to be concealed behind a mask of indifference.
Heart racing, palms drenched with sweat, I escort them into the camp facility and wait for them to get settled.
Minutes later, I'm off.
I had been making summer to-do lists since April--- stashing them like a strung-out junkie throughout the house.
I climb into my truck and start the engine. And enraptured in silent thought, thanks to my newfound freedom, I find myself driving miles past my first stop, home. With forced awareness, I backtrack and arrive at my destination.
Upon entering, I begin to tidy up the place, tossing broken toys and tattered clothes into a giant trash bag---something I could never do under the children’s relentless surveillance.
The silence is palpable. I hear myself sneeze, and exhale. Who knew the air compressor made such a loud clamor when it turns on? Never noticed.
Daily routine banter plays over and over in my brain like some worn-out recorder.
“Hurry up. Brush your teeth. Put your shoes on. We gotta go.”
“Eat your breakfast. Stop bothering your sister. Flush the toilet. Did you wash your hands?”
My own ideas never have a shot at occupying space inside my head. The kids hijack my brain, day after day, and consume every waking thought.
But not today. Today my vocal chords are at rest. My head is not pounding. Thoughts float in and out of my mind effortlessly like clouds blowing through the sky on a beautiful summer day.
How do people do this all day---actually finish a thought, take a task from inception to completion without interruption?
Imagine all the things I can accomplish this way.
Yet my head, warped from years of brainwashing, has adapted to the mayhem and actually thrives in it. Dysfunctional, I know. But true.
And as the minutes and hours to "pick-up time" melt away and I race through my errands, my thoughts keep wandering back to the children.
How are they doing? What can I make them to eat when they arrive hungry? (How can I keep them from falling asleep in the car on the way home?)
Phasing into this serene environment, fertile and full of potential is both exhilarating and confusing.
I am tickled, giddy, naughty---and slightly torn.
But no mommy guilt dares seep into my consciousness. Because with recharged batteries and a little well-deserved “me-time,” I'll appreciate my kids that much more once they return to me.
I am at peace. And wouldn’t have it any other way.