She turned five while she was sleeping. That’s what she told me while she was waking me up, anyway. And while I sleep-walk my way through making her chocolate chip pancake birthday breakfast waiting for the ADHD meds to clear the fuzz from my brain, I silently thank the Universe for her birthday request of a Do Nothing Day. We haven’t had very many of those lately. So she stays in her jammies and I go without a bra and we bake and we spend way too much time on the phone or video-calls with family and friends wanting to wish Princess Buttercup the happiest of five-year birthdays and skipping swim class so we can eat dinner at home with Daddy. And after a Too Late Family Movie Night served up with Ice Cream Too Close to Bed Time Just Because It’s Her Birthday, it’s time for a quick story and turn out the lights and holding hands while I sit on the floor until she gets brave enough to ask me to get in bed with her just until she falls asleep because five-year-olds don’t need their mommies to sleep with them all night.
I smile into the dark because she’s my baby always and not my baby anymore and everything in between. There are dishes to do and blog posts to write and emails to try and catch up on and a new manuscript to neglect and a writing platform to build and a two week trip to Michigan to agonize over for an upcoming wedding and shoes to obsess over online simply because hyper-focusing on something inconsequential like what I’ll have on my feet for no more than five minutes into the reception lets my mind avoid things like two weeks away from my world my bed my routine.
My thoughts are always racing and Then I Cans are the name of the game. While I’m making breakfast I think I’ll unload the dishwasher because Then I can empty the sink before I sit down to eat my own little meal but wait because now that the sink is empty I should wipe off the counter tops because Then I Can get the dehydrator out to make the jerky out of the meat marinading in the fridge and Then I Can sit down to eat…
And then two hours have passed and my big girl has long since finished her breakfast and set her dishes in the sink and sat herself down at the kitchen table to work on a crafty thing she unwrapped at her birthday party and the kitchen is cleaner than it’s been since..well, since last time. I’m starving.
We have a quiet day. I know the drill and on both sides of the family it’s expected that the birthday child will be ready to receive phone calls from all of the major players. I try to plan by making a few phone calls myself early in the day so as to not bottle-neck our evening, which is meant for relaxing with Daddy, but people are busy and three hours time difference makes life harder than it should be and I give up and she gets an afternoon birthday bubble bath before dinner.
I want to pay bills and start the grill for the chicken and put away two baskets of folded laundry and get started on that mess on my desk but time is limited so I move as fast as I can and only manage to put the laundry away before The Husband gets home and the phone starts ringing. My mother, his mother, her godfather, my sister, my other sister, my aunt, my godmother. The calls come in one on top of another on one cell phone and numbers are given for who get to go next on the other as Buttercup ends one conversation and starts another and loses enthusiasm with each rendition of This Is What I Did Today. Eventually, our families go to sleep and it’s time to sit down and watch that movie but now The Husband is looking at me and ordering me to sit down and just relax for the rest of the night even though my brain is now playing the But I Should Have game. All that time on the phone when I could have been quieting the buzzing in my head by crossing things off of the never-ending To Do list.
I want to do things now so I can have less things to do tomorrow and maybe, for once, have a day like I imagine others to have frequently with no crazed sense of urgency and permission to sit down after the kids are in bed and enjoy some trashy TV Just Because…
I want to know what it’s like just to breathe.
Buttercup is sitting on the couch patting the cushion next to her because she’s not letting me off the hook, either. So I sit. And when she pats the spot she just made for me on her little twin bed, I cover up and wait for the softness of her cheek against my own to slow time and space and grant me this one moment to just be.