A Toddler Mom’s Staycation

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

Sometimes ten free minutes can feel like gold to a busy parent.  

Take a minute to join me on a mental Staycation…

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***

I dance outside to seize a very rare moment in a young mother’s day where both her daughters are off in the loving care of a grandma-like figure, leaving me a few glorious minutes sneaked in between tasks on my monotonous to-do list.

The sun is so bright that I have to squint as I release my thoughts on the pages of a composition notebook in a quick, messy scribble that no one else will be able to read. I feel the instinct to capture them on paper before they float away like bubbles. Sunglasses would be ideal, except all four pairs are sitting on a wooden shelf just inside the sliding door, snickering at me for forgetting to grab one, yet again. But I am on a mental vacation, and I am unwilling to get up until I begin to sweat through my clothes.

My annoyance slips away, as the sound of our bulky air conditioner soothes me like shushing to a baby, as it sprints to run down the heat of the afternoon canyon sun. A welcomed breeze whispers through and helps my body pause momentarily from melting like a creamsicle.

I find myself enjoying the smell of bonfires tickling my nostrils as it brings back vivid childhood memories of Michigan summers; until I remember it is actually the heartbreaking scent of thousands of acres of trees blazing in the Holy Canyon fire.

Laying on a beige, outdoor L-shaped sectional, I get distracted when I look up and suddenly notice how confined I am by neighboring fences, squeezing me from all sides. Yet, I am oddly comforted knowing this little slice of the world is my families, and I get to watch my young daughters laugh and learn through play in this outdoor classroom made of skinned knees and chalk masterpieces.

The heat starts to get to me. I swallow and notice the dry flavor of black coffee lingering in my mouth. Licking the fuzz off my teeth, I imagine hydrating myself with an overpriced flute of anything sparkling. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs hearing a bell, I begin to salivate. Tonight is Mom’s Night Out with some old friends; our gathering is only six months overdue.

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Before I can feel good about heading out and leaving my family to fen for themselves, I feel an internal tug to finish my to-do list. I pick myself up off the warm couch, feeling completely restored from just a few minutes of silence and sunshine. I have renewed energy to tackle the pile of laundry that is staring me down. I will win. This Mom is putting on studded black heels tonight because I am tired of seeing them slowly wither in the back corner of my closet.

***

My staycation write-up was actually part of a writing exercise I took part in last week.  The assignment was to use all five sense to describe a vacation spot you traveled to this summer.  Because I have been busy starting a new job, getting my six month old in daycare, and juggling book releases, mental staycations are where it is at these days!

Coincidentally, this week my husband and I finally scheduled our ten year wedding anniversary trip to Palm Springs in October.  I am giddy.  I can hardly believe that an Adults-Only vacation is happening!

But if an adults only resort getaway isn’t realistic for you right now, take a minute to really explore the environment you are in – drink in the sights, smells, tastes, feelings, and sounds around you. It might just take something that normally blends in to a weekday afternoon, and reframe it.  For me it was ten minutes outside in my own backyard.

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

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I Started a New Job the Day My Baby was Born

For twenty eight hours a week, I became the leading lady at the new topless bar in town.  I had no choice.  The baby had to eat.   

The day my daughter was born, I started a new job.  For twenty eight hours a week, I became the leading lady at the new topless bar in town.  I had no choice.  The baby had to eat.

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@shutterstock

It is true.  Some people picture maternity leave as one long vacation.  But women everywhere are actually busy doing some of the most demanding and thankless jobs during this time – sustaining human life.  In my case that meant nursing, but I assume the hours are similar for moms using formula.  There is plenty of work to fill the hours we used to use at our real jobs.

While being the leading lady at the topless bar is not less significant than a fancy job that you need a degree for;  you’re not going to get paid the same.  People (*husband*) may refer to you as the “Boob Lady.”  Your shifts will be mandated every three hours by a loud, tiny boss. You’ll suddenly have to become a logistical genius to go on a mommy vacation (Target) for more than an hour at a time.

I am not complaining.  I am just speaking in facts.  Those first couple months a baby eats around eight times a day, for thirty minutes per session (prepping, feeding, clean-up).  Each week the math works out to about twenty eight hours (during the newborn stage), with no days off.

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@Shutterstock

In my experience, everything got a little easier with the second child.  Overall, I had a better routine down.  But, it still took at least thirty minutes to execute.   Every three hours I would change baby, nurse and burp baby, freeze the let down milk I had collected and clean the collection cup (read how I’ve managed to build a serious freezer stash with ZERO pumping), then rock baby back to sleep or let her play on the mat.

Now that it is my second time working at the topless bar in two years, I understand that the role is temporary.  My job description will change over time.   “Boob Lady” doesn’t have to be my lifelong identity.  However, it is a significant part of who I am right now.

And for those that have ever wondered what a new mom does with all her free time during maternity leave, come visit her at work.  On the couch, where you tip her in foot massages and quality dark chocolate.  **Shirts are always optional.**

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