A Day Off

I am so in love with fall.  Some of you may want to slap me, but I am glad our cool weather came early this year.  Why?  I truly love fall. I love everything about it:  the cool weather, fresh apples and apple crisp, corn and squash, hiking (ok, maybe I am just walking) through a state park, sweaters, jeans, boots, school. 

Ok, there I said it.  I LOVE school.  I have a little secret for you all.  Come close. Shhh! I am not even in school.  I just love it when everyone else is in school and I am home ALONE!  Admitting that out loud feels like I am betraying my kids.  How many times have I headr, “Treasure these moments, they go by so fast?”  Well, let me tell you; I need to be alone to do any treasuring.  I can’t even hear myself think, much less treasure, when everyone is home. 

At the beginning of summer, I am that mom.  The one with all the plans to have her older kids read the Classics and my little ones doing Hooked on Phonics every day.  We are going to grow our own food.  Sit still, and well, maybe even learn to knit as we bond.  I am so good at keeping up my plan until June 3rd.  Then I realize I am not that mom.  I am the mom who says, “Go outside!”  I also say, “Well, if you’re so bored I will give you a chore to do.”  When those word escape my lips, the children magically all end up outside.  I say these phrases and a few key others so often, I should actually just record my voice and put it on repeat in the kitchen.  While I am at it, I need to add one about how, “No, you don’t need a snack, you just ate.”

I don’t actually know what I spend the summer doing.  It always seems like I am crazy busy and getting done nothing all at the same time.  But then one magical morning I wake up and there is a change in the air.  The house actually even sounds different.  I lay with my eyes closed trying to figure out why I don’t hear the sound of children arguing over the Xbox or breaking things in the kitchen as they fight over the last bowl of Lucky Charms.  Suddenly, I remember.  It is the first day of school.  Those children who had to be bribed to stay in bed on summer mornings, in one night have suddenly figured out how to sleep in.  School has started.  Today, I will have to bribe them OUT of bed.

As I gird myself for the challenge of what surely should be an Olympic event, The Bed Cover Tug of War, I remember it will all be worth it.  In shortly over one hour…I will be alone.  This is the year!  The year I have been waiting for.  This year, is fourteen years in the making.  It is the first year all my children will be in school all day.  In my mind though, it isn’t really a long day.  When did children start getting done with school at 2:30?  Really!?  Back in my day I swear we went at least to 3:30.  Poor parents.

Now don’t get me wrong, as I drop them off, I may be thinking, don’t let the car door slam your little behind, and I may be doing the happy dance, but I do love my children.  Actually, sometimes I look at them and think that I truly need them with me to breathe.  But that day is not today.  Today is the day of threatening them not to need to call home sick, because I won’t come and get them.  In fact I am not even going to answer the phone.  Today, is the real Mother’s Day.  Today is my vacation. 

I have planned my schedule for this day over and over in my head.  Seriously!  How can I best use the six hours I have alone.  I am worried I may waste a valuable minute.  You see, I am allowing myself one day, one day off in all the years of parenting and this is it. 

Tomorrow, we will start the day with the same Olympic trails, and I will still bring everyone to school.  But tomorrow, my life goes on too.  I have a job (or two), and a house that needs my attention, and children to love and, and, and... So today is it.
I am off to get my nails done, and take a nap, and, oh, and little shopping that didn’t involve dragging children out from under the clothing rack would be nice.

So today, don’t try to call… I am taking today off.  Tomorrow, I am back on duty.  I’ll be relaxed and refreshed and ready to enjoy fall with my family and you.  Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

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