When you’re constantly refereeing petty fights, fending off small speeding bodies, being interrupted by butt wipings, talked over, stepped on and otherwise treated like a mom to young children, you may find you have a new appreciation for some seriously mundane shit. Here’s what I mean:
I went to the city on Saturday for a friend’s bachelorette party and as I was thinking about the hour-plus long train ride I’d have to take in, I started to get…giddy. I was also excited for the spa afternoon followed by dinner and (lots of) drinks celebrating with some of my oldest friends, but mostly I was pumped to be in transit. The LIRR sounded…luxurious, which, as anyone who has to ride it daily can tell you, it is not. In my pre-kid life I would have dreaded such a commute but I was positively excited about all that time not just alone but captive. Stuck sitting quietly in an air-conditioned train car with nothing to listen to but the humming of the engine and the clickety clack of the tracks (yes, I read too many kids’ books). My brain started working over-time at the opportunity. Should I bring a novel? A magazine? My laptop so I can get some work done? Should I take a nap? Stare out the window in silence? Meditate? Daydream? (Um, yes, I’m the kind of person who might plan to daydream. I might even put it on my to-do list.) The options were endless and none of them involved any invading of any personal space (if it were a weekday, rush-hour train that would be a different story and this would be a different post). I actually got a little frantic as the time came for me to jump in the car and race to the station. All that time! Alone! With nothing to do but sit! Crap, where’s my book?! Where’s a pen, a black fine-tip pen?! (I’m particular about my writing utensils.)
Ultimately I chose to bring a book and a notepad (you never know when the next big idea is going to hit!) but I caved and bought the latest Us Weekly at the station. That means I spent the entire hour catching up on celebs…and their parenting prowess (the issue was packed with parenting stuff—there’s no escaping it!). But it was just what the doctor ordered. Pure fluff. Like a palate cleanser for my overworked mom brain. US Weekly is my go-to guilty pleasure but there was no guilt. Of course it’s been so long since I tucked into one of these rags that I was a bit out of the loop (Who is this Big Ang person? What happened to Melanie Griffith's face? Halle Berry's engaged?! Carey Mulligan is married to that dude from Mumford & Sons?! How did I miss that one? And how is he only 25? Wait, Carmen Electra is still relevant?). And while I wouldn’t exactly call it the best use of my time (do I really need to know that Kourtney Kardashian got a pair of $390 Lanvin flats for her new baby girl or that Miranda Kerr looks looks polished in crisp Stella McCartney pants?), it was an enjoyable, mindless, parenting-free hour and that’s what matters.
I think it’s nice to be able to appreciate this kind of stuff, no? It’s an advantage we moms have. To find joy in the things that other people—including our pre-kid selves—might dread. This is not to say that I’m always trying to get alone time or to be away from my kids (I’m not—at all), but I know a good alone-time opportunity when I see one. And I cherished this one (the rest of the day/night was equally wonderful and soul nourishing). Anything seemingly crappy you now enjoy because it means having a little time (and your body and your thoughts) to yourself? I went to the grocery store at 8 p.m. last night after the kids had gone to bed and found it quite lovely. I strolled up and down the aisles with the one old man and the one young dude also shopping and I felt like I was at a yoga class for crying out loud. Pure, fancy-free relaxation time.