Friday, October 25, 2013

What I Do All Morning

Since the beginning of September, I have had my mornings "free."  By "free," I mean that both of my kids are in school.  They leave the house with my husband at 8am, and I don't need to go pick up Casey until 11am.  That is three hours sans kids.  Free.

I was VERY much looking forward to this time.  It would be, after all, the first time in five years I would have no children to look after on a regular, consistent basis.  I also had the pregnancy card on my side.  I find that many times, when stay at home moms send their kids off to school, the first question they are asked is:  "So what are you going to do with all of that time?"  It's a stressful question, and one that comes with all sorts of expectations and judgments and stereotypes.  But my pregnancy allowed me to avoid this pressure, because my "free" time is obviously finite.  In fact, in approximately three short weeks, I'll have a newborn at home, and it will be another three years until I can look forward to any sort of "free" time.  

I had all sorts of visions for this time.  I envisioned perhaps sleeping - getting up to help the kids get ready, and then coming back to bed once they were out the door.  I could doze for an hour or so with the Today Show on in the background, or watch the DVRed shows from the night before.  

I envisioned getting housework done - the kind of thing I usually put off and then have to face at 4pm. I would empty the dishwasher, put in laundry, go grocery shopping, and perhaps even prep that night's meal.  Maybe I would even make the beds - something  I have not done in five years. Or maybe ever. Actually, now that I think of it, I have never, ever been a regular bedmaker.  Maybe I would turn into one.

I envisioned showering daily.  And putting on make up.  And maybe even jewelry.  

I envisioned meeting friends for coffee at least once a week.  We would go to Le Pain Quotidien and have the bread basket and discuss sophisticated adult things.  

I envisioned exercising.  Sure, I'm pregnant, but why not get into reasonable shape?  Maybe a walk every morning?  

I envisioned blogging more.  There was a time when I used to post five times a week.  I have no idea how I had the stamina or creativity for such a feat, but perhaps it was time to reinvigorate myself?

I envisioned writing a book.  This is hysterical, actually.  But for years, I have had all these ideas and thoughts about what it would be like to write a novel.  Could I do it?  Now is the time to test it!  After all, my mornings are FREE!!!!!!

Confession time.  Two and a half months in, and I have not done ANY of the above, consistently at least.

Why, you may ask.  What is it you are doing?  After all, you have three hours to yourself every morning!  

Well, lets talk about October.  In the month of October, I have had something scheduled EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  Not most mornings.  EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  There is not one blank date. At all.  It is filled with a combination of OB appointments, doula appointments, doctor's appointments for the kids, school tours, school meetings, and random work related meetings.  I tried to schedule a coffee with a friend a few weeks ago, and had to tell her that sorry, I wasn't free until the week of November 11th (the week of my due date).  So much for my visions of sophisticated conversation at Le Pain Quotidien.  

I am beginning to think that "free time" really doesn't exist.  

If you have time on your hands, you use it.  You schedule it.  You fill it.  I have talked to other stay at home moms who have even more of this "free time" than me - whose kids are in school from 8-3, and they report the same thing.  There's always something.  

It begs the question of how I did all of these things before my mornings were "free"?

I didn't, is the answer.  The opening of free time allowed other things to come in.  For one, prior to this fall, I wasn't touring private schools (which is taking up A LOT of time).  Perhaps if I had to get a babysitter for every single tour, I would tour less.  My OB appointments are obviously mandatory, but perhaps if I had my kids in the mornings, I wouldn't have hired a doula.  Perhaps I wouldn't have volunteered at school events, if I had to drag Casey with me.  Perhaps I would have scaled back my freelance projects, because the childcare issue would just be too much of a pain.  

The other issue is that time goes by fast.  Very fast.  With all of the things I wanted to do (see above), how on earth would I fit that into three hours?  I feel like by the time I do anything (errand, appointment, etc.), I am in a mad rush to be at Casey's school by 11:30.  My mornings are hectic and stressful.  This life of leisure that I expected simply doesn't exist in three hour increments.

There is a weird relief in being busy, though.  I'm not going to lie - when I was envisioning my mornings of leisure, there was a part of me that felt guilty about it.  That it isn't right, or fair, for me to have the ability to lie in bed for an extra hour each day.  Or to exercise or write or self-groom, for God's sake - for taking the time to just take care of ME.  There seems to be a sense of disapproval for it - evident from that common question we stay at home moms get when our kids go off to school - So what are you going to DO? - implying that one must DO something productive, rather than just BE, or do something for oneself.

Wouldn't it be nice to just BE, if only for a few hours?  Is there really anything wrong with that?

I don't know what the next three years will bring in terms of work or commitments.  But there's a chance that in three years time I will be asked this question yet again, when all three of my kids are in school for at least a portion of the day.  I don't know what I will do.  But if I so choose to relax a little, I refuse to let myself feel guilty about it.

Remind me of that in three years time.  


  1. Don't beat yourself up. I find when I stay home on a holiday or PTO day I wind up with a list of unfinished tasks. The problem may be that we populate our things to do list with the wrong things. We fill them with things that we'd like to do, instead of what we need to do. If we drafted them differently, we find feel more successful! You sound like you've been very productive with a lot of important tasks.

  2. Gosh. I totally don't get it when people say they can't just stop. I'm SO lazy. I swear, for almost every day of my 12 month mat leave, I napped when my son napped. I wasn't even exhausted! I just did it because I could! I would then tell my husband that I just couldn't get dinner cooked because the day away from me. Haha. There is no guilt in whatever you choose to do. Just make sure you choose things that make you happy!!


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