Taking the day off to be all in

Today we sort of took the day off. We still managed to get the yard cut and run a few errands, but we were kid free all day long. It was weird and wonderful and a glimpse into our new normal for the days to come.

The thing that no one ever told me about parenting is that it changes you every single day. Not just as a parent, as a person. There is this breathless sense of wanting the kids to please be old enough to be a little independent while at the same time being desperate to keep them from growing up. I have never before wanted two opposing things so badly at the same time and I must say it does my head in most days.

So here we have exactly one week to go until school starts and I am elated and melancholy. Next week we will meet teachers and find classrooms and double check the school supply lists. I will make chore charts to help remind the girls of what needs to be done to get them out the door and pack lunches and write notes to them. The night before school starts I will stitch them a lovey to keep in their backpacks and write them each a letter for their scrapbooks (full disclosure – these books aren’t actually assembled there are folders with notes and dates and photos thrown in with the occasional note begging forgiveness if they find these archives long after I pass in the same sorry state they are in currently).

Before we know it, August will be swallowed by September and then engulfed by October. I will blink and it will be Christmas. I recall how often I heard adults lament how quickly time flies and thinking there must be something I was missing. When I was younger time seemed to DRRRRRRAAAAAAAAGGGGG on forever.

Today flew by in the easiest way it has in a long time. We caught up on movies and tv shows that we hadn’t seen. We splurged on ready-made salads and ate them without sharing or getting up for drinks, more napkins, an alternative to what was plated or any of the other frequent snags of lunchtime with little ones.

The kids came home tired and happy from playing all day and we were ready to give baths and read bedtime stories. It struck me first that maybe you can be a better at something from simply taking a little bit of time off from doing it. In the grand scheme of things we didn’t abandon being parents for the day, just as I wouldn’t recommend shelving whatever you are working on, but the temporary step back was helpful and restorative. I can now see that the opposite was true of the day, it wasn’t that we were taking the day off; we were just using the same energy usually directed to the goal of parenting on ourselves. Instead of being focused on the lessons we hope to instill in the kids or even indulging in a lazy day for them, we did it for ourselves and that felt important and worthwhile too.

This may seem like such a simple idea but I can attest that when the entire scope has encompassed primarily the needs and wants of the kids it is almost like getting reacquainted with ourselves. “What do you want to do today” was usually met with an honest reply of “sleep/coffee/cry/shower”. It is an interesting place to really chew on that question a bit and have the luxury of answering fully. I want to read. I want to write. I would like to run. I want to do all three things and then listen to Motown and imagine I am a kinder Betty Draper. It is dizzying the freedom that comes with saying those things. Yet I am.

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