My husband recently gave me a wonderful gift. It didn’t glitter or have leather seats, or come with champagne. It was the gift of peace. And quiet.
I got sprung from the big house and three boys younger than 6 for 48 hours of R & R, where the only wants and needs I was concerned with were mine, mine, all mine.
There are only so many hours a girl can work as a cook/laundress/nurse/driver without a day off. Every once in a while, I need to air out the single girl that’s been packed in mothballs and take a break from the sweet little balls of need.
There are days that if I hear “Mommy, more juice!” one more time, I feel as if I might stick a fork in my eye. Hey, at least it’s my eye.
Sure, in the big picture the mother nurtures, loves unconditionally, provides succor to her babes. Day to day though, she’s the ace hash-slinger providing three squares for her charges with myriad snicky-snacks in between.
Case in point: it was my son’s first day of preschool. I was more worked up about it than my little soldier, who was leaving me for three incredibly long hours. The drop-off went fine: no tears, not even a glance in my direction as he was whisked off to his classroom.
Pick-up time came, and I prepared for my little one to wrap his arms around me and tell me how much he missed me. The teacher led him out, our eyes met, and my little sweetie opened his mouth and yelled out, “Cracker!”
That’s right. You love, you give, you sweat, you bleed, but at the end of the day, you’re the cracker lady. You are the favorite waitress at the diner they eat in 10 times a day. They make a mess, come with a questionable friend or two, and never ever leave a tip. Who wouldn’t want to bolt on occasion under such working conditions?
I never realized the many pleasures there were to behold at the local airport. I leisurely strolled with my bags, leafed through magazines, and picked out snacks.
Who knew the pure joy of going hours without saying, “stop that,” or “get off of your brother.” Hours without saying anything at all. Heck, I could have been at a bus station or a rest stop, the point was, I was all by my lonesome. And it was glorious.
I felt like a superhero traveling incognito. Like I had traveled back in time to the days when I worked outside of the home, lived by myself, and was utterly and totally consumed with one person and one person only.
Being off of the clock was just what the doctor ordered for this burned-out mommy. To know that the children and their unabating needs were being tended to out of reach of my hands and ears was pure bliss indeed. To know that sippy cups were being endlessly filled, tantrums thrown, toys snatched, all in a different time zone, was to know a Zen-like quiet.
After two days of me, myself, and more me, I was ready to get back to the business of mothering. Upon my return, as my little one held his cup out to me for a refill, I knew I was home again. Back to work for the cracker lady.
Judith Margolis Friedman, 2007; revised 2022.