Mental-Health Break

Today’s the first day in, like, forever that I didn’t have anything scheduled, anything due, anything expected of me.  I had a plan: catch up—return emails, make some phone calls, run some errands—then sit and do nothing but stare out the window, breathe a little more deeply, and re-inhabit my life, by way of my body—the only way I know how.

But no.

“Why?”  You, caringest of readers, ask.

Because snow.

Which was pretty, I’m not gonna pretend it wasn’t pretty—at one point the flakes were the diameter of those little bouncy balls costing a quarter you see at certain grocery stores. It was falling from the sky as if all the gods and goddesses—okay probably only the goddesses—were shaking out their downy pillows over us like so much feathery confetti.

So my day got hijacked because of snow. And because I live in Maryland, and Maryland and snow are not on good terms.  Or at least Maryland is not on good terms with snow.  Snow sort of paralyzes my state. So everything was cancelled—namely school.

And, I’ll be honest with you, I like the idea of a snow day, what with the images of hot chocolate and snuggling and reading and puzzles and board games it conjures, but I’ll be even more honest with you, those conjured images are not the reality of a snow day.  Not at my house.  The reality of a snow day at my house is a lot of expectation that I will do what everyone who’s used up all his screen time and then some wants me to do.  And, I’ll keep being honest with you—I cannot.  I mean not every second and all the time.  I have some limitations, believe it or not.  I am only one mom.  And a disappointing one at that sometimes.  And let me be clear, the sometimes I’m referring to here is called: today.

It all started with the Legos.

And the girl needing help with them.  And the boy hating them.  And the mother wanting to help the girl with them and the boy wanting the mother to play the original-living-room-edition of Hand Ball.  And, there being only one living room, and that being Lego-strewn, and there being only one mother—and she being a disappointing one at that—things got ugly.  And quick.  Because the girl wanted help and the mother thought maybe the boy could help, too, and they could, all of them—Maybe? Please?  I’m-begging-you!  Do you see my teeth clenching?—all work together on a simple, constructive project and by doing so said mother would be available to play the original-living-room-edition of Hand Ball all the sooner.

But no.

Because Legos.

Because the boy declares, “I hate Legos.  They always break apart when you don’t want them to and never break apart when you want them to.”  And it’s true.  And he is right.  But do we have to go on and on about the shortcomings of Legos?  (Apparently yes, he does.)  I mean can we just accept that this is the nature of Legos and try to help a girl build her veterinary hospital that she just got for her birthday from her best friend that she is so over-the-top excited about? (Apparently not.)  But who would want to do anything that could dash her spark?  (The boy, that’s who.)  And does this make his mother happy?  (No, it does not.)  And does this make his little sister happy?  You, smart and discerning reader, have concluded correctly.

So we argued.  All of us.  And we blamed–that was mostly me.  And we yelled–he,  mostly, did that.  And we cried–only the girl, but the tears were enough to equal what the other two of us would take months to shed.  And that, my friend, is no small amount of tears.

So, with not just a little coaxing, convincing, cajoling, maybe even some begging, the mother—her blood-sugar level sinking by the second—herded the two-but-who-seemed-like-ten beasts into their pumpkin coach and off they went to Belvedere Square for lunch.

Belvedere Square is like the Quiet Room on the Psych ward, thinks the mother—though she’s never had the opportunity to verify, this–by something miraculous on par with divine intervention.

Somehow, there with my kids, I turn back into a Mother-in-Charge.  I happen to hold the purse strings and that may just be the magic carpet that transports these kids out of our cabin’s chaos into the land of sanity.  But I really don’t even care what did it, I’m just glad that an escape option existed and that the pumpkin-coach ride to that land took less than five (though seemingly eternal) minutes.

Martin O’Malley—former presidential wannabe, or tryin’-to-be—was at the table next to us with his sons, and—like the good New Yorker I would be if I ever lived in New York—I ignored him so he could have his lunch, and his sons could have him, all to their selves.  My boy, however, could not stop staring, and smiling.  That’s a whole other post in which I muse over the starstruckness we feel in the face of fame.  It’s such a curiosity to me.  It’s totally human and yet it really does deserve to be broken down into some kind of sense and understanding.

Anyway, the reason I get to sit and write this is because after Belvedere Square saved me and my kids from my own undoing, I dropped the girl off for a playdate at the Lego-gifting best friend’s house, then swung by and picked up the boy’s friend for a different playdate here, at this…our home, sweet home.



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