Me Day - FamilyEducation

Me Day

October 14,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Yesterday morning my office-mate/friend and I joked that we weren't the only ones who benefited from the two-days off for Fall Break. We left our clunky, prehistoric printer in a non-working state on Thursday--whirring endlessly to itself, and a couple of error lights flashing on and off. Tuesday morning it was, miraculously, back-to-life again, doing what it was supposed to do--no help from anyone. ***************** On Monday, my last day of the four-day Fall Break weekend, I took a Me Day. Sometimes I do manage to squeeze in some Me Minutes, mainly spent in the car driving from one child's school to the other; or I manage a Me Hour now and again in the grocery store (or some Me Minutes in the bathroom), but I'm not sure that counts. It's been ages since I've managed a Me Day. I worked in the morning--finished up some writing projects I've been wanting to work on for awhile now, had lunch with T. at her school (lunch at 11:10--very early) and then I fled. Scott called me on my cell on my way downtown. "Why don't you spend your free afternoon at home?" He suggested helpfully. But I recoiled at the thought of this. While Scott's idea of Me Time is to spend a few hours at home working his way through our extensive vinyl collection while plotting the next moves in his fantasy basketball league, I need to get out of the house in order to have some quality Me Time. I find it too difficult to separate myself from the domestic side of home life when I'm there. I might manage a couple hours of work but then my thoughts turn to the laundry, or I notice the dust bunnies rolling lazily against the baseboards; or the thought of L.'s room, messy and in need of purging, beckons me from upstairs. I might wander into T.'s room to put away laundry and catch sight of her closets, groaning to contain her overflowing stuffed animal collection. What a perfect time to de-clutter! Kid free! Visions of trash bags filled with the surplus might float through my head and before I'd know it my afternoon would vanish like a puff of smoke, spent de-cluttering and cleaning, and by the end of it my hands would smell like rubber gloves and Clorox and my back might ache. I have friends who work quite well at home, and I envy them. I also have friends who feel as I do--they have to leave their homes to get anything done for themselves. They cart their laptops to coffee houses to write, or they flee to the library, as I did on Monday; not even having that coveted room of one's own to work is enough when I'm at home. I envy my husband who has always so easily been able to turn off the messiness of home life to get work done. Even when we're all four of us at home and I'm working, the kids still seek me out--like little homing missiles they find me, and T. will wiggle her way onto my lap, or L. will ask a simple question, and I feel my thoughts fragment, like cloth unraveling when only one simple thread is pulled. So I spent a glorious Me Day, just me and myself. I shopped at my favorite thrift store (Ann Taylor sweater for $5! Banana Republic khakis for $7!), and walked over to the library to read, think, and just be (and yes, I did answer a few work-related e-mails, I confess). I bought a hazelnut coffee from the shy lady with the glasses and the bun who works the coffee stand in the library lobby and then I sipped it while reading in the car outside of L.'s school. The rain washed down the windows, but it was cozy in the van, and I felt that sense of completeness with myself we moms seldom get to experience, because we're so often pulled a million different ways, our hearts and minds stretched constantly. It was a humble Me Day, by many standards, but it was a glorious one. What is your idea of a good Me Day?