As a stay at home mama to an exclusively breastfed baby, i don’t often get too far for too long without the gravitational pull of Veda’s needs tugging me back. After all, the universe no longer revolves around me and despite some of the obvious downfalls of this galactic rearrangement, i do love it just so.
A recent trip to the spa ended promptly at 2 hours when she and my husband returned and i was ushered back from massage-land by the sweet sounds of urgent hunger wafting past the spas front desk. It was actually a perfect return, perfect in the sense that in this new universal order all of my moments of separation end in a swift tug of Veda-gravity. Had i been able to gently transition back to reality, i might have been left confused about this new realm i live in. Those two hours away were incredible, though. When i had first arrived and was unwinding in the steam room, it took me a moment to settle into my freedom, kind of like being on the moon without any gravity. It was interesting for me, since i’ve spent very little time away from Veda, to observe how unnatural it felt for me to just “clock out” of duty. After about 10 minutes i was happily unplugged for the rest of my time, but it’s so rare that i am ever off duty. If she is within earshot, which she usually is, i am on duty. I simply cannot fully unplug if i can see, smell, or hear her. If my husband is encouraging me to take a bath he knows that he and Veda have to leave our apartment because if i can feel her presence i can’t untether. And though I can’t always get a solid two hours of spa time, i recently had a revelation about what is easily available to me on at least a weekly basis. If you’ve been following my blog then you know what a struggle “me” time has been for me while my husband has been working over time for months and we have chosen to remain accessible to Veda at all times.
The other day while we were out running errands as a family i decided to have my husband drop me off at our last stop, about 10 blocks from home, so that i could complete the task myself and he could get back home to work. I had him take the car and our baby with him, while my plan was to scoop up some lunch and walk home when i was done. Now, if you’re not a stay at home mama and you don’t have the experience of being without nearby family or alternative child care, or also like me, have chosen to stay close to your cubs during their first year(s), then walking 10 blocks by yourself proabably doesn’t seem to be anything to write home about. But, if like me you’re a full time, all day, all night, one woman show with part time husband support and no family nearby to call upon for an extra set of hands and eyes… then a 10 block walk is a full-on vacation! I had no idea what i was missing until i discovered how restorative that short time can be.
It was the perfect balmy summer afternoon, the rain had already come and gone, and there was a sweet smell of wet trees wafting through the post-storm breeze. I stopped off into a Japanese bodega, got an avocado roll and ate it on the way home. I walked slowly, soaking in this delicious solitude. I felt so liberated. Untethered. I was literally 20 pounds lighter since i’m always wearing her. But most of all this walk revealed to me how good it feels to just wander, not only physically, but mentally too. My mind is almost never that free to roam and graze my own thoughts and ideas. I am always “on” with my mother-ear refined and tuned in, on call for duty at all times. I’m constantly smiling, singing, bouncing, and narrating the day for my little sidekick, and i miss just floating away with my thoughts!
Anyone who knows me well can vouch for the fact that i have always been a world class relaxer. You don’t have to tell me twice to take a load off, kick back, take a nap, get a massage, or go for a leisurely walk. I have a talent for doing nothing beautifully. In fact, lounging in the middle of the afternoon and letting my mind drift and wander is one of my favorite pastimes, one that i hadn’t even noticed i was a stranger to since having Veda. This 10 block vacation illuminated two things: one, it’s been forever since I’ve done a lot of beautiful nothingness and i really missed it, and two, a wandering mind is essential for me as a writer. In those 10 minutes so many ideas i’ve been sitting on began to unfurl and organize themselves. Many of my best “writing days” are the ones where i don’t do any writing at all. They are the ones where i just do a lot of good thinking. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside my cozy, curled up, apparently lazy, baking or basking-by-a-window mode is actually a wealth of productivity. I haven’t written in a while and not for a lack of ideas or even time. I have tons of half-baked drafts and my evenings do have good pockets of time that are just for me, but i’m realizig now how so much of my writing comes out of this luxurious time of mental loitering. As a writer and introvert, much of my creativity, insight, and capacity to recharge comes from the sweet vast void of unscheduled dawdling. While i no longer live in the same self-centered universe that i used to, i think i may have found a loophole to Veda-gravity, like a portal to my former self-absorption where i can dive in for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes at a time and get the reboot or insight i need. (Like the Being John Malcovich portal when he enters his own portal and it’s all Malcovich all the time.)
When my husband is working from home i can go for a walk and dive into planet ME. This may sound like an obvious thing to do, or maybe a little sad to some, but its a glorious revelation for me. Raising my daughter in this way, with 24/7 access to me, and without the village that we all know it truly takes to get that helping hand (when you’d like to take an uninterrupted shower before 10pm or finish writing a piece i’ve been working on for weeks knowing that Veda is enjoying playtime with a loved one just in the other room), a simple walk and a snack all by myself is not only necessary, but it’s also an incredible luxury that feels oh so good and i can’t wait to dive in more in the weeks to come.
My husband and i are now getting excited thinking about how amazing it’s going to be when we get to go to a movie together! We’re working out the details of in whose care we would feel comfortable leaving Veda in, what time of day (likely an afternoon) would be best, etc., but it’s on the horizon. And it’s exciting! I have to say, it’s kinda fun being able to enjoy life’s smaller pleasures in such a big way. Parenting as we are can be demanding at times, and it’s an ongoing process to figure out how to coexist inside the galaxy of this bright gravitational star, but it’s a journey that is revealing so much of what is really important to us and bringing us down into the basics of what makes life really great. We know there will come a time when we (mostly me) won’t be needed so much, so in the meantime it’s our pleasure to get into orbit and accept the flow of Veda-gravity. For my husband and i, finding one another out here in deep space and learning a new dance together is a fun part of the adventure. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy… sometimes we are pretty off beat, but when we strike the right note at the same time it’s pretty magical.
In conclusion, little luxuries are possible, and quite delicious, if you simply look for them! Don’t fight the flow. It’s all ever changing anyways…