Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bye Week

Two weeks ago we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

The kids took the travel in stride and then held up pretty well for a week at my brother's non-toddler-centric home. We had a really fantastic visit, but on the whole the entire undertaking proved to be kind of monumentally exhausting.

Then, as I mentioned last week, we came home and flew headlong into a weekend of Christmas craziness. 

We put up the tree, hauled out the advent calendar, hung lights, and generally (to quote my sister-in-law) decked the ever-loving crap out of the halls.

By Monday morning I was ready for a vacation.

Unfortunately a vacation was not on the agenda. And so instead I woke up at 5:15am with my still-on-Chicago-time offspring. I got my "out of the habit of going to Kindergarten" Kindergartener off to school in a flurry of teary protestations and then started mentally preparing to take the 3- and 1-year-olds to the grocery store to restock and begin prepping meals for the week.

As I wearily attempted to load my overtired kiddos into the minivan I heard a voice speak to me as if from the heavens. This celestial voice intoned with great authority,

"You know what? Screw this!"

I paused. I reflected. And do you know what I did for the next three days?

I heeded that voice.

Accepting the fact that I had reached a point of near-total burnout I just decided to dial everything back. Like a professional football player, I found myself craving a much needed break from the full-contact sport that is motherhood.

So, I opted to give myself a bye week.

  • Instead of doing fun-filled outings to the park and the zoo I left the kids in their PJs for the whole day and allowed them to wreak havoc in the playroom without making a single effort to tidy in their wake.
  • I punted on mealtimes and served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and microwaved Mac-n-Cheese for dinner.
  • I allowed the kids to watch the movie "Planes" on repeat to the point where they could recite the entire film line by line.
  • I gave my five-year-old the iPad at nap time and passed out on the floor next to my little ones for an hour each afternoon.
  • When my husband got home from work at night I greeted him with a tired kiss and some Chinese leftovers before heading to bed at 8pm.
  • I ignored homework projects and instead let my five-year-old draw in his Mickey Mouse coloring book to his heart's content.
  • I put the kids in the bathtub at 5:30 at night and let them splash each other until the water got cold.
  • I did too far much Facebook browsing and far too little interacting with my offspring in a meaningful way.

For almost 60 hours of our collective lives I indulged in some genuinely lackluster parenting, and you know what? 

Everyone survived.

By Thursday I had caught up on some much-needed rest and started to feel a little bit more human. I was ready to re-tackle the playroom, which had fallen into a state of epic disrepair. I dove into the gigantic laundry pile that had been festering in the corner. I bought groceries and began preparing decent meals again. I even managed a genuinely joyful Santa outing will all three kids in tow.

It felt good to be back.

But I'm still glad for those few personal days I took to get back on my feet. I needed them.

Because falling down on the job sometimes doesn't make you a bad person or a terrible parent -- it just makes you a Mom taking a much needed bye week.