Sunday, April 29, 2012

59 Freakin' Minutes to Yourself

For the first time in months, the planets finally align to bestow an hour of free time upon tired, overworked and overstressed you. The sitter was already at your house watching your youngest while you attended an appointment, and by freak occurrence, it ended early. Now you don't have anywhere to be until it's time to pick up your older children from school.

Merrily contemplate your options as you drive, although you're not sure where you're headed. Of course, you could just head home to relieve the sitter and save an hour's money. Hahaha! You're not hour to yourself is way too rare of a commodity to be wasted at any cost.

So what to do with this blissful 59---er, now 56---minutes to fill? You're drunk with the possibilities! You rule out shopping due to travel time involved. You could take a much-needed nap. Yeah, but where? In the car? And what if you oversleep? You've got it...You'll grab your beverage of choice, a Vanilla Chai Latte, and just enjoy the simple pleasure of reading a novel uninterrupted.

Fortunately, you always keep a book in the car as usually the only chance you get to read a few paragraphs is while sitting in the parking lot waiting for your son to pack up his baseball gear. With this whole...54 minutes in front of you, why, you might even read a whole chapter. Or two. In a ROW.

Head downtown to your local coffee house. Will you bring your book inside? No, this is Me Time. You don't want to share it with crowds. You'd rather sit in a quiet spot at the park on such a beautiful day. Grab your wallet and run in to purchase your latte to-go.

Wow, it appears many people crave a beverage on this same day. Tension prickles the back of your neck. You might waste a good 10 minutes waiting in line. But the latte is an important component of your Me Time game plan. It's supposed to be you, your book and your latte...The long-forgotten and neglected Happy Threesome, together again at last. You will not be denied this.

The machine that steams the milk is now spitting foam at an employee. He makes futile attempts to stop it. Your heart rate increases with each of his painstakingly slow adjustments. He'll probably have to call in a five-man repair crew from Steamed Milk Machine Experts & Co.  You want to scream, "Hurry up! This is my only hour to myself!" But look at that....he fixed it. You and your latte are soon on your way to the park.

You almost can't believe it when you arrive. See, The Fates are not always working against you. Sometimes things do work out. Check your watch. You only have 29 minutes left? Inconceivable! Gulp some latte, scalding your tongue while you scan the park for an available bench.

The first one you find is on the clear opposite end from where you parked. You stomach churns as you hike toward it, knowing you'll now have to allocate extra time to walk back to the car later or you'll be late for school pick-up. But you are NOT going to let aggravation ruin this.  This is your one freakin' hour to your freakin' self and you're going to freakin' enjoy it.

Set your liquid companion down on the warm park bench. Your phone beeps. Ignore! Don't even take it out to see who it is. You refuse to waste even a second of whatever time is left dealing with the phone. That resolve dissipates quickly as you worry it's the school saying one of your kids is sick. Take a look and feel relieved it's just a text from your husband requiring a simple two-word reply. Fight any and all urges to click the Facebook or Twitter icons.

Attempt reading in the bright sunlight. Readjust your angle so the sun is behind your shoulder instead of in your eyes. Turn the page. Wonder if you remembered to put your son's book order form in his backpack. Oh no, is tomorrow the day the social studies poster is due? The one where so far all your son has written is "Our Founding Fa"?

Ugh, now is not the time to be worrying about these things! Ignore wave of guilt. Check your watch again. How are there only 17 minutes left? Yell at yourself to hurry up and read!  Ignore quizzical looks from strangers who heard you.

The sun is hot. It's a brisk early spring day, but the direct sunlight has Caribbean-like heating capabilities. The warm beverage isn't helping. Try to read another paragraph, but you're baking. Speaking of baking, you have no idea what to make for dinner. What do you have in the house that's healthy and quick to prepare? Now there's an oxymoron.

Reread the same paragraph twice in the sweltering sun. You can't stand it. You have to move. As you spring up, some of your now tepid latte splatters onto your jeans. Marvel how the high-quality disposable travel lid failed to do its sole job of keeping the liquid inside the cup. Blot the spill with the crumpled coffee house receipt because in your haste, you forgot to grab a napkin. Tell yourself it's okay, tea doesn't stain much, although you know the opposite to be true. But at least you didn't spill the whole thing, right? RIGHT?

Only 6 minutes left before you have to head for the kids' school. Half-walk, half-hobble due to the discomfort caused by your now soggy pant leg sticking to your thigh and seek shade under a nearby tree. Easy yourself down into in a pretzel-like position. Open your book again. Without the sun, the stain on your jeans feels cooler and wetter. Stretch your legs out in front of you, wincing at how any movement acerbates the problem. Attempt to read while simultaneously holding the fabric away from your skin. Get up. Get up and give a swift kick to the tree trunk, although you know nothing was its fault. Mumble an apology.

Arrive at the school pick-up line late and more stressed out than had you not had 59 freakin' minutes to yourself.

Actual Amount of Me Time: 59 minutes
Real Feel: 4 minute blur 
Amount of Vanilla Chai Latte Enjoyed:  1 oz. 
Number of Times Tree Trunk Had Been Kicked Previously:  2754
Chance You Will Get Another Hour to Yourself Anytime Soon:  0

If you had a precious uninterrupted hour to yourself, how would you spend it? How often do you manage to get time for yourself?


  1. Did you ever notice that husbands NEVER have this issue? I have often mentioned to my husband that I constantly feel as if there's a clock ticking over my head, and he just doesn't get it. Even on the rare times I get to sneak out, to the gym perhaps, I am always "on the clock": Will I get back before the baby wakes from his nap? (Even though, presumably, my PEDIATRICIAN husband could handle it). So I race to the gym, race through a workout, rush home (without showering) just to make sure I am not gone "too long". Princess, on the other hand, puts in his full workout, takes some time in the steam room, showers, primps, and usually stops at CVS before sauntering in. Sheesh.

    1. You feel that way because there IS always a clock ticking over our heads....a big mean clock with a scary face who shakes his cartoon fist and points to his wristwatch to constantly remind us we need to hurry up. (You may wonder what kind of clock also needs a wristwatch. Isn't that overkill? Yes, and it just shows the type of stressor we're dealing with here).

      I have indeed noticed said clock only seems to follow moms around. You've illustrated the gender difference in these scenarios perfectly. Also love your use of the word 'Princess' when describing the good doctor. Nice touch.

  2. This was awesome! I loved it. With 4 kids my opportunites to be alone are few and far between. I went doctor for one hour and I ran into everyone I knew " oh must be nice to be alone"....Really I am at the doctors not the spa! Loved your cartoon

    1. Glad you could relate! Guess those people at the doctor's office figure a moment alone is a moment alone.....we have to take them where we can get 'em. But I'm usually so worked up about whatever it is I'm seeing the doctor for, I can't enjoy the minute's peace or actually get into the book I brought. So yeah, not exactly a zen-like spa moment for me either, alone or otherwise!

  3. Just 5 minutes alone in the bathroom would be welcomed!
    Love your story and your drawing.

    1. I hear ya, Lisa! And yet, my kids don't bug my husband when he's in the bathroom...doesn't quite seem fair, does it?
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I read in the bathroom !

    1. Hey, I say read wherever you can make it work! Unfortunately, my younger kids still barge in, or even if the older ones respect the closed bathroom door, they still try to shout conversations through it. Come to think of it, maybe 'respect' isn't the right word there either ;)


One thing I'll always make time for:

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