It is Saturday morning. I am sitting here with a mug of coffee. I woke up this morning the old-fashioned way: on my own. No one yelled for me, cried, came and crawled in next to me or kicked me. No alarm clock yanked me out of my reverie. I just opened my eyes when I felt like it. I am still in my pj’s and it’s nearly 10 a.m. The only breakfast I made was for me. I haven’t had to do dishes, dress anyone or tell anyone 10 times to brush their teeth.
Just me sitting here lazily surfing the web, chatting on the phone without interruption and having the time to write.
How did I manage to achieve these heights of parental slacking? In the infamous words of British legends, Queen, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Well, my friends, this is my real life in winter these days.
Each Saturday, my husband takes our two boys up to ski lessons, and I am able to do whatever I want down here in the lowlands of Seattle. Usually, that means going to a movie. Last year, I managed to see nearly every single Oscar Best Picture nominee, a feat that I hadn’t accomplished since about 2003. I can take the dog for a run. I can write. I can slack. I can see friends. I can do whatever I want. It is an amazing new/old feeling, which I had nearly forgotten. It’s a concept called free time. It is, to paraphrase Seattle legend Macklemore, freaking awesome.
But it wasn’t always this way.
We moved here from the Midwest when our oldest son was not quite 2. Very soon after we arrived, I realized that when my husband said he wanted to ski “a lot,” he meant every weekend. You see, I thought that wanting to ski “a lot” meant probably once a month or so. That’s a pretty big disconnect, no? Yup.
Also, he meant that he wanted to ski alone or with other adults. He wanted to enjoy it and challenge himself on the hardest hills. He did not want to spend his time on the bunny hill trying to coax our kid around with M&Ms.
As one might imagine, we quickly began to fight over this disconnect. He needed to ski to release tension and enjoy his life. As much as I understood that and wanted that for him, it meant that I was at home watching a kid. As a stay-at-home mom, it was just an extra day at work. So, he would be off having fun while I was working six days a week with no break. First, it was our oldest, and then the youngest arrived and I had a whole other round of it to endure.
I spent years watching our kids on Saturdays while my husband was off on the slopes. It wasn’t pretty, and I was resentful for many years.
That was a tough sell when I had just spent an entire day entertaining and caring for a 2-year-old. I could hear his promises, and I believed that he meant it. But I could barely see past tomorrow much less some magical day when they were both potty-trained, speaking in complete sentences and old enough to speed down hills on two sticks!
When you are in the thick of diapers and the same tedious books over and over and playing trains for the 5,000th time and tantrums and getting the crumbs out of the high chair cracks and giving them an hour long bath because you have run out of ideas of how to fill the day, “someday” feels like a lifetime away.
But, here I sit, several years later and he really is paying me back. I am getting these huge, gaping days to myself each week, and I really can do whatever I want. I just had to hang in there and wait it out. I put in my time, and now it’s my turn to enjoy myself.
It really wasn’t easy to get here. But time is a consistent mistress, and “someday” is now. Our marriage is much calmer. He is happier, and so am I. It was rocky but we made it.
The day that once seemed so magical and faraway has arrived. And now, my friends, I am off to enjoy this someday!