As I sit here in my basement home office, it’s hard to ignore the screams. Despite the way it sounds, no, we’re not running a bone-grinding factory, and no one is meeting their death. It’s just my two-year-old screaming because Mom is not in sight. Days like these make it painfully clear why I need time away from everyone — including my family. Or maybe especially my family.
Don’t get me wrong, I live a pretty good life. My relationship is stable, I have a career I love, and my son is happy and healthy. But the pending arrival of baby number two makes me terrified of what’s to come, and I need some time away from it all. And here’s why:
1. Being parent of the month is hard.
I could empathize with the horror soundtrack ringing through the halls if my son were up there alone. But he’s not. At worst, his dad is ten feet away; at best, he’s in the same room watching tv with him. I learned a long time ago that my son’s expectations of me are four times higher than any other human. And some days, it’s enough to make me want a solo bunker to hide in.
By the time my son wakes up each morning, my husband is already gone to work. One of the first things my son does each day is run through the halls and say, “Dad?! Where’s Dad?” I find this part of our morning routine particularly amusing because we both know my son won’t run to his dad other than for the occasional trip to the potty. In reality, I’m the one on call from morning to night. And it’s exhausting.
2. It’s impossible to get anything done.
I think my son realizes I’m on call shortly after asking “where’s dad?” because that’s when he starts his morning requests. (He’s gonna make a great boss someday.) Usually around this time, I (try to) begin work in my lair (aka, home office). My son runs down the stairs every five to ten minutes, and I respond the same way each time: “Mommy’s working.”
“Working,” he always responds.
Yes, baby. Mom is working. “Okay, Mama, milk?” The respect for my craft is gone almost instantly. That conversation is the first of many in our daily routine of repeated instructions.
3. The other “employee” around here sucks.
Even when my co-worker (aka, husband) is here to divide the load, I still carry the majority of the burden. Moments like now, when both my husband and I are home and yet I’m still the one who’s on parenting duty, make it hard not to send a death glare through the walls — especially when he says something like, “I’m getting in the shower, listen for Chub.”
First, I’m always listening to Chub. And Chub is always hearing me (not to be confused with listening, of course) because he’s ALWAYS. RIGHT. HERE.
Second, I’m jealous. I hardly know what it’s like to take a shower without the door opening and letting in an arctic blast — let alone how it feels to exist without an accompanying frantic “mama?” on repeat. My showers, baths, and bowel movements have all become community events. Why doesn’t our son ever need anything when my husband is on the toilet?
In the words of Calgon, “take me away…”
My daydreams are filled with uninterrupted showers and midday naps. Sometimes I fantasize of a world where I don’t have to eat my French fries or my Sonic Blast in secrecy. During these daydreams, food is the temperature it’s supposed to be and I have time to rinse the conditioner from my hair. Ironically, these daydreams are often interrupted by squeaky “Hey Mamas” or baritone “Hey babes.”
Having a bed all to myself is a world I haven’t lived in for a very long time.
I want to lay in bed with my pregnancy pillow and a warm blanket not shared with a bed buddy. I’m ashamed to admit how much I love sleeping alone during work trips.
I want to get away from the dogs barking every morning demanding to be let outside at the crack of dawn. They must not realize some of us like to occasionally sleep past 6:30.
It would be nice to run away from the neighbors and their myriad opinions about proper lawn care.
And truthfully, there are days I also want to get away from myself. To spend the night away from my own personal anxieties, life stressors, and obsession with these pregnancy pounds would be a breath of fresh air.
Just one night when I don’t have to deal with or think about these things sounds fantastic. But there are two things I know for sure:
First, I have been away from my family (and all the other crap) before. I spend most of that time missing them, thinking about how much they mean to me, and how they make my life beautiful. Their chaos is engraved into my day.
Second, it’ll all start over the moment I walk back in the front door.
Then again, I’ve also been a parent long enough to know that missing them is a risk I’m willing to take. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all, so given the chance, I’m outta here!
For a couple hours anyway.
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