Suburban Snapshots

I'm No Physicist But I Enjoy Time and Space

Monday, March 09, 2015

As soon as my husband said, "We're going to Grandma and Grandpa's on Sunday" I had my whole day planned. Without my tiny entourage I'd grocery shop, I'd clean the house and it would stay clean for longer than forty-three seconds, I'd finally wash the bedsheets, and when I was done, I'd buy a coffee and browse somewhere, anywhere. I'd browse so hard.

Anna and I spent Saturday in Boston visiting a college friend in town on business. First though, I sat for an hour at a splurgy high-end salon and waited for her to lose interest in her iPad. She lasted about twenty minutes before wandering over to my hairdresser's chair, standing just a little too far into the aisle, blocking traffic and pillaging the candy bowl. There was nothing bad about her behavior, but there was nothing relaxing about my appointment, either. We walked to meet my girlfriend for lunch, and though I love taking Anna to bigger cities, I don't love trying to keep her safe and out of other pedestrians' paths over and over. I want her to learn these skills, I just don't know when I'll have it in me to patiently teach her. She's been testing my patience a lot lately.

We ate lunch at a deli-slash-market, and though the candy displays, soda fridges, handmade jewelry and dessert case were on our side of the shop, she insisted on meandering out of sight toward towering shelves of wine and beer. I (mostly) stayed seated, calling her back between bites and sentences. She ordered a seven-dollar smoothie from which she sipped about four cents. Lesley and I managed to catch up for a little over an hour and my reuben was on point. On the way home I stopped to see another friend and his toddler. My almost-seven-year-old undid every child safety lock and gate, and made sure the smaller girl knew about the staircase hidden behind a door in her bedroom. Twice.

I'd have had the same Saturday on my own if Steve didn't have to work every weekend this month. When he's not at work working, he's busy trying to finish the room we're moving Anna into. Even today, the visit with his parents wasn't strictly social — their pipes burst and he wanted to help his dad sort things out. He works. I am grateful. But I didn't have time Saturday alone, and I didn't have time on my own last weekend. I bring Anna almost everywhere I go because Steve needs to get things done on weekends. She loves hanging out with me and for the most part, she's an excellent sidekick.

The prospect of them being away together for at least a few hours on a Sunday filled me with visions of all the amazing things I could do — change the bedding, shop at Trader Joe's instead of the regular grocery store, drop off our overflowing box of Goodwill donations, listen to really, really explicit hip hop — glamorous and extravagant things. So when Steve added an hour before leaving, "This is a family trip" I took a cue from Anna and stomped and pouted and probably cried a little. Steve took a cue from every fed-up 80s mom ever and left without me. I felt guilty until my house was spotless and my bed was fresh, and the sample lady at Trader Joe's had wine and cheese and the kid with the mini-cart ramming into ankles wasn't mine.

Balancing is hard. I can't tell my husband to not work because I need "me time." Or I could, but I'd feel like a jerk being like, "I see you're covered head to toe with insulation and stuff but I really need to get out of here for a few hours." I'm aware that for every minute I just want her away from me there will be a thousand when I'll wish she would be closer. (It's worth noting that the first three-quarters of this entry were written to a soundtrack of "You Are the Meanest Mom You Never Let Me Do Anything!" ©Every Kid Ever)

I don't know if there's a solution. Steve and I are good about talking, but we're mismatched in our needs to be "out." I work from home, I am rarely elsewhere. I don't get to come home from work, and though I anticipate his arrival each day like a puppy at the door, I just as often knock him flat in my rush to get out of the house after eight, twelve, twenty-four hours.

I love hanging out with these people, but I'm better at it when I get time to myself.

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