“Since we have nothing to do — no classes, no appointments, no dates — we’ll make pancakes. We like to pancake. Lately we’ll make [our son] pancakes in different colors, and in the shapes of animals.” —From “How Emma Straub, Novelist, Spends Her Sundays”, The New York Times’ Sunday Routine column, 5/20/2016*
RISE AND SHINE The day begins at 6 a.m. with a scream of terror, when I open my eyes and see my 4-year-old’s face looming inches away from mine. Who knows how long he’s been standing there, silently staring at me?
I DON’T KNOW – WHY DON’T YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT WE SHOULD DO TODAY? Since we have nothing to do – no classes, no appointments, no dates – my husband and I start the day in a blind panic over how we will fill the long, unstructured hours that lay ahead.
BREAKFAST WITH PICASSO For our first meal of the day, it’s frozen Aunt Jemima pancakes tossed into the toaster ov– I mean, a batch of homemade sprouted-quinoa pancakes lovingly crafted into images that represent different art movements. This week it’s Cubism! It’s a lot of work but worth it for the joy of seeing my children mindlessly eat one or two bites while they watch YouTube videos of disembodied hands unwrapping Shopkins.
DOING IT ALL After breakfast it’s off to the playground, where I push the kids on the swings while simultaneously checking Facebook. (A mom’s gotta multitask – am I right, ladies??) I scroll through the posts on the local moms’ group to to stay up to date on which commonly used household item is possibly killing my children.
SERIOUSLY?? It CANNOT only be 9 o’clock right now.
ME TIME Around mid-morning, my husband takes over in order to give me a little break. I like to use this time to take a scenic drive to my favorite remote spot, where I admire the view, think about how #grateful I am, and scream for 3-5 minutes.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT Home-sweet-home again! I wash the tear-streaked dirt off my face and put the baby down for a nap. Our older child no longer naps, so we give him a choice of watching Wall-E in the den or playing quietly in his bed with his eyes closed. Now is the time when we reconnect as a couple, usually by shoveling leftover mac and cheese into our mouths while staring at our phones.
POST-NAP GRAB BAG This when we like to work our way through a random and increasingly frenzied array of activities designed to entertain the children and exhaust them to the point of passing out at bedtime (this hasn’t happened yet, but we keep trying!). We might play with the water table, take a walk with the dog, draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, play with friends, water the garden, ride bikes, go out for ice cream, play robots, draw, color, glue things to pieces of paper…
ZZZZZZ No, Mommy did not fall asleep just now! She is playing Legos with you!
THE GREAT ESCAPE Around now, my husband and I traditionally have an argument over who gets to to run to the grocery store or pharmacy or wherever, some errand that in our pre-kid life would be totally boring but which now is a covetable prize because it involves leaving the house. This week it was a trip to PetSmart to buy food for our dog. I won.
SO CLOSE… After a dinner that definitely does not consist of all-white foods like pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, we bathe the children and put them in their pajamas. We spend a few minutes watching our boys play together, their wet hair combed and parted like little business men, and we start to feel a little more fondness for them, because soon they will be asleep.
VICTORY We curl up together on the couch to watch TV. After scrolling through all of our options and vigorously debating the merits of each, we choose the perfect thing and settle in. Within five minutes, we are asleep.
*With apologies to Ms. Straub, whose work I enjoy and admire.