The schools are on winter break this week, which means Tim is home for a fabulous nine days in a row and I am remembering what it's like to not run around feeling like a chicken with its head cut off.
For instance! This morning the cat had to go back to the vet and I was able to do that all by myself! I got to sit there in the waiting room for approximately twelve years, cat carrier stowed at my feet, and surf my phone, and not once did I have to say things like "please get off the floor" or "please don't pet the scary looking doggy." I left that joy to other parents in the waiting room.
I did, however, get cornered by an 83 year old woman with some definite ethnic prejudices and a penchant for oversharing. I learned about her crazy neighbors, her bizarre relatives, the various pets she'd had over the past eight decades, and so on. And while some of what she said bordered on pretty offensive, it was also kind of nice to have a conversation (however strange and one-sided) without having to say "Stop that. Mommy is trying to talk to someone. Don't lick your sister. Don't touch the doorknobs too much. Stop reading the book about the abandoned starving kitty. No, we don't have any snacks, and even if we did, you wouldn't be getting one after rolling on the floor. Do you know what is on that floor?" (I did. Said oversharing octogenarian had a little dog who was playing fast and loose with his continence and the results were frightening.) As a former reporter, I always said I'd talk to anyone, but after whole days with the under-four-feet set, apparently I will quite literally talk to anyone.
Or this afternoon! I was able to make cupcakes for our playdate, including homemade icing, without twenty tiny fingers trying to sample the batter, because Daddy was far more entertaining. I even managed to complete the project without warning people away from the hot oven. Call the papers, it's a Christmas miracle.
This evening I went to rehearsal and remembered we were out of cereal and milk. The trip into the grocery store took less than 10 minutes. I haven't done anything in under 10 minutes in four years.
There are downsides, of course. To call me a control freak is to make the understatement of a century. I think I've written before how the inevitable disruption to a carefully honed routine makes me twitch just a little. Deep down I know it really doesn't matter if the laundry isn't all done at once or if the kids wear their pajamas too long or eat lunch at 1 instead of 12:30, but sometimes that's hard to remember.
And then I get to go to the store for bananas and it doesn't take an hour. Or I get extra time to sleep in the morning. Or the kids start shrieking in laughter because they're climbing, literally climbing, up my husband, and I realize how worth it it is. By Friday I might be going crazy, but if it weren't for winter vacation, I'd never have sat next to an 83 year old with all her teeth and a bad dye job, who looked me in the eye and announced "I hate people. Animals are honest. That's why I hate people," and launched into a story about a dog who stole the perfect hamburger once a million years ago in Delaware.
And what's better than that?