Now and again I get the type of break elusive to most parents: a momcation.
We took the kids to visit family and go to a friend’s wedding in Chicago last week. I went, too, but Mark’s got a lot more time off. I flew home. Husband and kids stayed.
I’ve been flying solo for days.
Ahead of my ‘time off,’ which is going to last a solid week, friends and fam alike asked me what I would do with all that time.
“I think I’ll finally organize the garage sale,” I said.
I started making a to-do list in my head.
I boarded the plane. I ordered wine. Had an epiphany.New idea: I won’t do anything with my time off that I don’t want to do. I got home, alone and free. I ripped up the mental ‘to-do.’
What did I do next?
I made a ‘won’t do.’
Item 1 Won’t do: Garage sale organization.
Nope, not going to happen. At least not on my momcation.
I poured a glass of wine and started watching the mesmerizing series ‘The Time in Between,’ on Netflix.
The scenario repeated itself the next night.
I got a call. My friend was in the ER.
I picked her up.
My friends aren’t on any list, but they are a priority, always. It felt good to be able to take care of someone who needed help.
While at the ER I chatted with my pal. She’s not the only great friend in my life going through stressful times, I assured her. Yet another pal is over her head as she and her husband try to get through life and stay financially afloat under crushing student loans and raise two kids, including an two-month old infant. She works full-time and go to graduate school. And, BTW, whenever she goes to the doctor, nurses and physicians demand to know why she isn’t breastfeeding. Their judgement is the last thing she, or any mother needs, ie:
ARE YOU #$%^^&* KIDDING ME.
Per usual, I’m impressed by my grad school stressed-out friend. She needed to vent, yes, but key items are on her ‘won’t do’ list are helping her get through every day.
Won’t do: Care what the breastfeeding nazis say. @#$% em.
“We all try to do so much,” I said to my ER stressed-out friend as we waited to check out of the hospital.
Let’s start a revolution.
Let’s stop. Just stop.
Our tombstones won’t read:
‘Here lies so and so. She had a hell of a damn list, and she crossed all that shit off.’
‘Here lies husband and wife so and so and sonofagun. They enrolled their kids in five extracurriculars and worked and volunteered 93 hours a week a piece before suffering simultaneous head explosions at the PTA.’
I’d rather be remembered as a good friend.
I don’t mean stop trying. I mean, stop trying so hard. Stop caring so much (about what others say or think). Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to succeed at everything or impress anyone. Make your own ‘won’t do’ list.
That’s a buncha fancy talk for some straight talk:
Item 2, won’t do: Sulk
Earlier in life, when life was all about me and my career and nothing else, ie my 20s, I reacted more, emoted more and managed to make myself unhappy with ease. Something was always wrong. I gained five pounds. I fought with my editor and took it personally. I failed to win some award or get the job I wanted. I sulked. A lot.
Life got harder, not easier. Five pounds? HAHA you skinny bitch! Try two kids and eighty pounds.
The difference is that I stopped sulking (AS MUCH I’M STILL A MOODY WRITER)
A positive and unexpected side effect of having Eli, who has cystic fibrosis, is that I let a lot go because I lack emotional energy to react or care. You can’t control other people or life circumstance, only the way you react to what comes your way. My dad put that idea in my head years ago.
‘This too shall pass’ he would say after some tirade of mine or another about this, that or who cares what. It is a mantra I finally managed to get behind. A big share of that has come from Eli, some from the illness and loss of my mom, some from getting older and some from actual mindful practice in caring less because I only have so much to give, ppl.
A writer pal of mine wrote a great piece on her blog this week about ‘self-care’ that spoke to me in this age of go go go. I love the idea of doing less of what we have to and more of what we want to. She has a whole list of ideas. Now that’s a list I’ll get behind.
Inspired by my own ‘won’t do’ list and her post, I got a mani-pedi before meeting a friend for dinner at her new house.
I arrived home and watched more Netflix.
Another pal had a birthday. I organized a gathering to celebrate. We had a few collegial brews at a charming place I’ve been meaning to try out.
I arrived home and watched more Netflix.
The garage is still full of crap.
I went to bed with a smile on my face.
I talked to my husband and kids this morning.
“What are you up to?” Mark asked.
“I’m drinking coffee and writing,” I said.
“That must be nice,” he replied.
What’s on your ‘won’t do’ list?