I don’t fancy myself a comedian, but I know that sometimes I can elicit a laugh, a chuckle, a torrent of laughter. On Friday I met up with a dear old friend for lunch, an early birthday celebration of sorts. It was nice to just chat and watch Dessi crack up at my quips that fall flat most days on my toddler’s ears.
We’re both moms now, she further ahead than I, but both of us are very much still stumbling through it. We texted about a week ahead to set up the date after so many other failed plans. I had to ask my friend Teri to babysit Rory. (My mother in-law, who has been gracious enough to spend time with my kid for a couple of hours a week has been unable to for a while now due to a broken leg.) It’s possible that getting a babysitter for a mere hour long lunch date is lost on many people—I can hear you asking, “Why not just take your kid with you?” Because, I wanted to actually enjoy and eat my lunch, not spend the whole time cutting up Rory’s food only so he can lob it at me or the floor when he decides five minutes after the meal arrives that he’s done eating.
All morning we texted about what time we’d meet and where, though we’d already hashed it out before. But we’ve got kid-addled brains, and probably neither of us wrote it down. At 12:19 I hopped in my car and texted Dessi that I’d be at our 12:20 lunch date shortly. I saw I had missed a call from her just minutes before. Damn, I thought, she’s already there. I drove the three-quarters of a mile to the restaurant and prayed for good street parking. At the light right before my destination I realized I was tailing my friend in her familiar blue hatchback. I nabbed a parking spot she missed, so I walked around the corner to greet her at her car.
“No hugs,” Dessi reminded me. She was nursing a cold, and I had just gotten over three weeks of the plague (first a cold, then the stomach flu, then the cough and runny nose that wouldn’t die).
“I’m so glad you run on mom time.” I smiled and waited to see if she liked the joke.
“I’m always late,” she said, a line she probably chants to herself a million times a week and prays no one will notice. (I’ve been there.)
Dessi pulled out a full box of tissue from her trunk before we headed to the restaurant. I sympathized with her, both about the tardiness and the box of tissues currently rolling around in my trunk.
Mom time is compressed time. It’s having to do three million things just to get out of the house, all while trying to rationalize with totally unwilling participants. Mom time is being totally naked when the door bell rings because you spent every minute cleaning up spills and crumbs and getting tiny humans to let you wipe their butts, then running out of time and realizing you’re still wearing a sports bra and your jeans (the only pair that fit) have remnants from whatever your kid ate the day before. Mom time is stolen moments. Your only alone time is in the bathroom (sometimes even at work), a quiet place to check your texts and emails and update your Amazon wish list. Mom time sounds funny, but when you’re running on it and the stakes are high it’s no laughing matter. I can joke about mom time now, but a year ago I was in a dark depression about it.
We sat down at the restaurant and fiddled with our menus after perusing them for less than thirty seconds. We were both secretly anxious about the slow waiter who didn’t understand mom time. Minutes passed, ages in mom time, before he noticed us and took our order. Meanwhile, we caught up, apologized for forgetting gifts we meant to exchange, and discussed a family date we’ve got on the books when Dessi has to take forced vacation because her son’s daycare closes for a full week before Christmas.
I candidly shared that I was so thankful for a friend who doesn’t mind my incessant texting to make plans. I live and die by plans. Without an upcoming date on my calendar to look forward to, I’m a miserable woman. I love hanging out with Rory every day, but I still crave adult interaction, and no matter how cute he is, he simply cannot give me that. I am not a premeditated stay at home mom, I came at this very much accidentally, after the fact.
“Sometimes I feel like being a stay at home mom is like living alone in the wilderness and I’m only allowed out into civilization every blue moon,” I blurted out, not caring how stupid it sounded, because that’s how I am with good friends.
Dessi threw her head back and cackled. “You have to write about this. I would pay to read this as a story.”
She’s always been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
I don’t know what the story is here, what the through thread is, but last night I all but begged my husband to give me a few hours of alone time. Blessed alone time so I could think, plan, write. So far I’ve spent my alone time ordering Christmas cards for my family and my mom, finishing my kid’s Christmas wish list, running out to Trader Joe’s to get a little something extra for my mother in-law’s birthday present and trying to figure out how to wrap everything before we have to leave for lunch, and kindly trying to keep a war from breaking out between my mom and my mother in-law over the kid’s Pottery Barn chair on said wish list.
Oh, and I got an hour to sneak off to a coffee shop so I could write. This is what I wrote. And look, you don’t have to pay for it even. You’re welcome.