“I can’t believe you still want to hang out with me.” I uttered these words to my friend Amanda while we were on our ever-so-hip hang out to go to Walgreens and Duc Loi Supermarket together, a few weeks before preschool re-started.
“What are you talking about?!” she bumped my body with hers, checking me.
“I’m not doing any better. I am still a mess. The only time I had to hang out with you this week was while we grocery shopped. Every time we see each other all I really have to talk about are how things are still completely crazy in my life.”
“Well, that just makes me want to hang out with you more! I love it when you’re real.”
It’s nice to be known. To be loved for being a bit of a fuck-up. To be validated for admitting that out loud.
But I’m also very, very glad to be in a different place now. At last. Even if it’s just for a moment. I’ll take it.
I went to a 5-year-old birthday party the weekend before preschool started up again, and was talking to one of the moms there about how hard our summers had been. “I finished strong, though, so I feel good.” she said.
Oh. I absolutely did not finish strong. I finished with an hours-long argument with my husband that kept us up way too late watching Portlandia and laughing together after all the disappointment. I finished writing letters long into the night about how, oddly enough, I was struck with unbelievable sadness that my daughter was going back to school, even though I barely made it through the summer.
I finished almost completely beaten down. I had actually gotten to the point that I couldn’t even hope that preschool would make things better. I was sure she was going to react to the change poorly, resist the fact that she’d be napping at school three days a week, and be overstimulated by the longer days.
None of that happened. She woke up each day of the three day week excited to go to school, napped pleasantly (if shortly) for her teachers, and played well with everyone. Then, when my husband or I scooped her up to bring her home, I’d be so happy to see her that I eagerly read her books, did art projects, or took her to the library. So far, it’s been a total win-win.
On my end, I’m completely in a state of shock about how much I can get done in 3 nine-hour stints. It turns out that I respond extremely well to freedom, and the freelancer life. I had three pieces published, wrote five more, then had one of those published as well . I worked my butt off for my copywriting job, and did a shit-ton of household work, including most of the physical weekend chores my husband usually does, since he is out of town for a few days now. I WENT TO THE MOVIES ALONE in the middle of the day, something I haven’t done since maternity leave. I took different dance classes. I got my email inbox down to 25, the magic number for me to feel like it isn’t eating my life. I called my mom, just to see how she was doing.
Therefore I’m experiencing the 4 days of solo parenting I’m currently in, while my husband is in New England, all “Yay, Girl Adventure Time!” instead of, “ugh. girl adventure time.” I even figured out how to make combing out Olive’s fro-knots in the bath so bearable that she said, “That was a fun bath” for about an hour after we got out.
In that final torrid week before preschool started, one of my closest neighborhood friends moved to France. I was so sad to see her go that I cried big salty tears that night, realizing what a source of fun and real talk she had been for me. She gave me many parting gifts, as she was trying to give away a bunch of her stuff, and she has awesome taste.
One of them has been working like a talisman for me through this first week of preschool, helping me let go of worry about how Olive is doing there, and move into this new stage in my life with faith that it will be a better one. It’s this little gold necklace that says “bless this mess”.