We had a lovely December. We started our holiday season with one set of grandparents visiting mid-month and capped it off with travel to see the other set of grandparents for Christmas. After our return home we still had plenty of time to enjoy the break with some much-needed time for play and relaxation. LP got seriously into Legos and spent hours following extensive directions to build spaceships, airplanes, and even a fire station. IP has gotten quite involved in playing “pretend.” Sometimes she has her baby-doll that she is taking care of, and sometimes she has other figurines that she alternatively calls her “bird friends” or “dinosaur friends” and who all speak in a strange, high-pitched, version of IP’s voice. With all of her babies, critters, and friends IP has been busy negotiating sharing, changing “pretend” diapers and giving assorted animals time-outs. Busy times!
So, we had this lovely break, with lots of family togetherness. Sunday rolled around and it was time for me to make dinners for the week, so I set up my podcast and started cooking, hoping against hope for an uninterrupted hour where I could just cook and listen to my show.
Fifteen minutes later I paused my podcast for the third time to negotiate another Lego truce after already having paused to provide IP a wipe, get LP a snack, and get IP a snack after she decided she also wanted a snack just like her brother. Half-an-hour later I simply shut off my podcast all together and continued cooking while keeping an alert ear out for more arguing and screaming, punctuated by LP running in every few minutes pleading “come play Legos with me!” Nevermind that I had explained what I was doing a million times. Two hours later dinners were done, dishes were mostly clean, and we were sitting down to eat, but all I wanted to do was hide upstairs with a romance novel and tune the world out.
Then it was Monday and it was time for IP and LP to go to school, time for the G-man to work on some projects around the house, and it was time for me to . . . have some time to myself?? You see, I had January 4th off (it’s a quirk of my district’s professional development schedule). So I had two-and-a-half hours in the morning to get myself together. I went to the dentist. I reviewed my writing projects for the next year. I spent time reflecting on and fully drafting my 2016 intentions. I worked out. I made an early lunch and ate it in peace and quiet.
Then it was time to pick IP from preschool. I was thrilled to see her and she was thrilled to see me. We played at school for a bit and then headed home where we snuggled and read. Then it was time to pick LP. Once he got home he cried “Come play Lego’s with me!” And I said “Sure!” and gladly plopped down in the play-room to start finding “two bump” and “one bump” pieces to start off a police car. IP joined us and we had a delightful and joyful afternoon. I was focused on being with them and enjoying them. They were calm enough to focus and play without too much fighting after busy days at school. We had all gotten the break from each other that we needed.
I love my children. I try to be mindful and present when I am with them so that I can enjoy the time we have. I strive to be non-distracted with them so that I can catch precious moments that pass in an instant. But what I remembered that fine Monday was that I also need time to be with myself. As much as I love being around people, including my children and spouse, if I don’t have quiet, reflective time, or if I don’t get time to for my writing, or if I am always fielding requests, demands, needs of other people, I soon lose the ability to enjoy the people I’m around. It was a good reminder that I sometimes need a break, time be with myself and my own thoughts, and to take care of myself in order to be both a happier person and to be able to enjoy my children instead of just tolerate them.
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