A Fine Line

At what point does much deserved away time from your children morph into guilt laden "Me Time" sprinkled with a touch of "Neglect"?
I ask this because as a stay at home mom, I spend A LOT of time with my kids. In the working world, I'd be considered a borderline work-a-holic. I'm the first to admit that my attentiveness ebbs and flows with the tides and moons. Yeah, I surf the net and take personal calls while I'm in the office. Hey, nobody's perfect. But on AVERAGE, I'm a darned good mommy. So good, that even when I get a few hours away, a date night, or a dental appointment, I suffer serious bouts of worry and self doubt. I should be home singing the ABC's and baking cookies with my children. I don't contribute to our gross income. I am not furthering our retirement fund. I do not deserve a pedicure.
Which brings me to my point: I am about to embark on my second childless overnight in one week. That's right, two separate glorious adult excursions all in the same week! I know, the last time I had two nights away was when I went into false labor. And you're asking "How the hell did you get so lucky?"
Last week my parents, aka "The World's Greatest Grandparents", begged to take my children for the night. I willingly agreed, hung up the phone and quickly made as many hair, nail and martini appointments as possible. I cannot say enough about the joys of spending 24 hours in your own home alone. (You can read about it in last week's blog entries)
And now, it just so happens that John and I are headed to Napa for a night without the girls. How did this happen? Have I reached a new era in my parenting career? Maybe we're in the honeymoon phase of raising kids. That moment when they've graduated from breast feeding, when they're verbal enough to tell grandma they need a hotdog, and not quite to the point when their hormones morph them into raging teenage lunatics who hate your guts. Well, maybe. But I still have guilt.
It's one thing to be overworked, exhausted and daydreaming about a little time alone. It's another to be handed a dream getaway once a week. I mean, what did I do to deserve this? Or rather, what price will I pay in exchange for this? It's no secret that a mother's absence is rewarded with illness, attitude or wakefulness. Oh, yes, that would explain last week's 24 hour child free excursion...since my return we've dealt with pink eye, bronchial inflammation, and rotovirus. And that's just my youngest!
So here goes nothing, mommy's going away for the night girls. Use your manners and when I return I'll shower you in my love and attention! We'll make play dough and have tea parties. And don't worry, I'm sure to have a miserable time worrying about how much therapy all this "Me-Time" is going to cost us later. Bye-bye, now!

The Waiting Room, aka Parental Torture Chamber

Why do pediatrician's TORTURE mothers with their waiting room policies? First off, if and when I call for a "sick appointment", it's no secret that by the time I'm picking up the phone I'm at the end of my rope. I haven't slept, they haven't slept, and there's snot or vomit flying all over my house and this isn't the FIRST day! So I call, and the receptionist puts me on hold, and then transfers me, and then I listen to the nurse's voice mail....can SOMEONE just take two seconds to hear me out please?!?! MY KID IS SICK!!! WHEN CAN I COME IN????
So, that's the message I left the nurse. She didn't call back. Big surprise.
I waited 30 minutes and then threw myself to the dogs, again. Rewind tape, repeat. Only this time, I took a deep breath before leaving a message, "Hi. This is Shelby and Ana's mom, I would like an appointment today with any doctor to see my snotty, diarrhea, goopy-eyed, coughing, harking, vomiting children. Please call me back if you have an appointment today so we may come to your office and infect the rest of the living world with our sickliness. Click."
She called back!!! And then she said, "Can you be here at 9:45?"
The clock read 9:18. And we had a 15 minute drive into town!!!! I swear those receptionists live to torture me. I had no choice, no makeup, and not a minute to spare. The girls and I turned on our tornado speed and whirled out of the house like that Tasmanian Devil thing leaving behind a pile of rubble in our living room.
We arrived 4 minutes late. Signed in. Then sat in the waiting room for exactly 42 minutes before seeing a doctor.
THIS PLACE SHOULD BE CALLED THE PARENT TORTURE CHAMBER!!!!!! I'd rather be water boarded! And the whole time we were in the waiting room, all I could think about was the other three germs we didn't have that were lingering on the floor and on the toys just waiting to infect us AGAIN.
Cut to the part when we leave The Parent Torture Chamber/Doc's Office with three prescriptions in hand and a giant light bulb appears over my head. Why does this always happen at the worst moments? I realize we are downtown and have a FREE parking place, and this is where the Torture Chamber MUST have affected my common sense, I actually bypassed the car and decided to take my sick children SHOPPING!!!
They were hungry, I was now legally insane so what better place to go than a restaurant? And stop in to a few shoe stores along the way. After we ate, I had the good sense to direct us toward the bathroom before heading home....cuz with my luck...
We squeezed through the bathroom door with our stroller, ADA Accessible my ass! Shelby jumped up onto the toilet to do her business while I wrestled Ana into the stroller before she ate the trash and licked the floor.
"Uh-Oh Mommy (not the words you want to hear...ever)," an apologetic looking Shelby stared up at me from her perch on the toilet and announced, "I peed on my panties."
That's when someone jiggled the bathroom door handle. Great, an impatient audience to add to my panic.
Conveniently, Shelby had chosen to wear shoes, socks, and skinny jeans. She might as well have added leg warmers and a padlock cuz taking all this crap off of her in a bathroom with nowhere to sit was an acrobatic feat I did not care to attempt today. I considered our options.
"Did you pee on your pants, too?"
She jumped off the toilet and felt around in her pants, "No."
There is a God.
So I pulled on my Super Mom cape, whipped out a Swiss Army knife with the dullest blade EVER, stretched Shelby's panties as far as they would go and proceeded to saw them off of her at the leg holes. And then, like some exotic tear away undies, we yanked off the ragged remains of her "Monday" Panties and said our goodbyes as the white and purple underwear sailed through the air on their way to the trash.
"Okay, honey, all set. Let's wash our hands."
As we emerged from the bathroom, I decided the game was up, we should head directly home, DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200.


Dear Reader...

Oh Dear Reader, How I've missed you! The days have passed like torturous hours and I've had so many thoughts to share with you. Like my theories on meditation: I've been reading a lot about meditation and learning more than I care to know about the practices of serious Yogis and the traditions which accompany meditation in the book I'm reading, Eat Pray Love. And I've decided that meditation comes in many forms, not just the silent "Ooommm" kind rehearsed in a criss-cross applesauce with pinched fingers (oh, the joyous influence of budding toddler communication on one's intellectual process). That everyone, not just Buddhist monks and Yoga freaks (or Yogis, I've learned), everyone who seeks to attain some balance in life seeks a form of quieting the mind. Whether walking the beach, attending mass, surfing, or just relaxing in a hot bath. You do it. Come on, I know you do. For me, meditation is running. But not just a short jog for a few miles. I can meditate only when I push myself to accomplish longer distances. When the steady drone of my feet pounding the earth puts my brain into a numbed, quiet state of consciousness I find peace. Which is why I find myself avoiding running groups or running partners: It discombobulates my chi. Achieving this solitude provides me with a lowered sense of stress, a practical outlook, a humor that rises to the surface more readily in times of need. My body, my mind, my soul are completely aligned. How do you meditate?
I have a new "Funny" to share. As we peeled hard boiled eggs, for the umpteenth time this weekend, Shelby was honing her skills of eggshell removal when she hastily shoved the white substance into her hungry mouth. Her little eyes bugged out and her ravenous chomping slowed to a grimacing gulp, followed by a profound announcement, "I think there was still some CRACK on that egg!"
I've determined that rotovirus has attacked my littlest one. I know, it sounds like some mechanical attack-bot that shoots laser beams and makes R2-D2 noises. Have you read about this on the internet? Talk about feeling like a horrible mother!!!! It claims that rotovirus is most common in 6-24 month old children and is the result of fecal-oral interaction. Yeah, my kid somehow got poo in her mouth and now she has unstoppable diarrhea with a side of vomiting. Oh joy. Yoohoo! Over here! "I accept this giant statuette Awarded for 'WORST HOMEMAKER, TERRIBLE HOUSEWIFE AND DESPICABLE MOTHER' on behalf of my horrendously sick daughter. (cue music) Thank you so much." And the kicker is that this is the SECOND time she's had it this year! I DO suck!
On the topic of grandparents: If you have any, please call them. John and I have only recently discovered the valuable relationships we have with our grandmothers and the miracle we can share with our daughters. Putting our kids in the presence of great grandmothers is an incredible gift and something we both treasure. Especially when you see what joy it brings to a woman who raised her own babies nearly a century before. Drop a card in the mail, pick up the phone, especially on the holidays.
Finally, I want to share with you a family tradition during our Easter Holiday. Egg Enchiladas. That's right, chopped hard boiled eggs inside a cheesey saucey enchilada. Try one today! You'll love it.
In conclusion, meditating and the crack, the destruction of rotovirus, the interconnection between fourth generations and Egg Enchiladas are my keys to the universe right now.
Happy Easter, Yours Sincerely, The Culture (like a Petri Dish)