Mommy’s Time-Out

I won’t lie: my kids are driving me crazy today and I need a time-out. And I don’t mean the lock-myself-in-the-bathroom kind, where I sit against the wall for two minutes with my head in my hands (or my fingers in my ears) and block out the screaming, banging and sometimes-kicking that ensues, without fail, on the other side of the door.

I need some relief. At the moment, my time-out fantasy looks like a lounge chair perched right where the waves roll in on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, a tropical drink in my hand, and nothing to do and nowhere to go. And please, dear God, the ability to shut out my to-do list and obsessions for a precious little while.

A slight shift from two straight weeks of scheduled, but fun-filled summer days with kids. Dance camp, swimming lessons, play dates, family time. A morning that started out with S screaming at me for waking her up, and H asking for a present because for the first time in two weeks, she went back to sleeping in her own bed. An on-the-floor temper tantrum over something I’ve already forgotten, and a protest over running my errands and a simultaneous request for another play date, and time in the pool.

Impatient pleas to watch Miss Spider, or “NO, MOMMY!” to turn on Olivia instead. Whose identical seagull from Finding Nemo is whose, and whose it most definitely isn’t. Reminders that, after twenty seconds, someone is “still waiting” for a snack, or for me to replace the refill in the hands-free soap dispenser. A shouting, pinching and swatting match over one of a hundred toys, and a report every other minute on who’s sharing (and who isn’t.)

I’m caught in the middle of counting the days until school starts (although I can’t believe I’m saying that) and that slow, sneaking feeling of dread that settles in when suddenly, there are three weeks left of summer – and all of its promise and freedom. The lazy beach days, splashing in the waves and chasing sea gulls, eating steamed clams and lobster rolls, snapping photographs, making memories.

On days like today, I know the end of summer and the return to routine won’t be entirely bad. In the meantime, while I can’t jet off to the Caribbean to find my happy place, I’ll try to settle for some practical alternatives. There’s a pitcher of sangria in the fridge, left over from the weekend…

Maybe a bad day with the kids is the push I need to get to exercise class tonight, or to get up for an early morning run tomorrow before my husband leaves for work. I could use the spa gift card I’ve been carrying around for six months and get a manicure or massage, or take my shopping list to Target, all by myself.

Whatever shape my “time-out” takes, I know one thing. Before long, two smiles and two pairs of outstretched arms will complete my reset – and help me shift my perspective from, “What the hell?!” to “Ah, yes. THIS is why I do this!”

But I think I’ll have a glass of sangria anyway.

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