Time off to reflect and to visit.

January 5, 2013

Today marks the first day we slowly enter our “regular” life post-holidays. I cannot believe it’s been two weeks. It feels like a month. An email the day before reminding us that the girl’s gymnastics class starts bright and early nudges us all awake. Our usually early bird kids have taken to sleeping in to 730 am and sometimes a little later. Heaven! But, it’s going to be brutal Monday morning when I have to get myself and them all up earlier.

This morning I could see Mr. L’s blood pressure slowly rising as he tried to get two sets of coats and boots on the girls used to the luxury of pokey mornings in pyjamas. Thankfully Jacob’s sportball class wasn’t starting for another week so I took the morning to putter in the house. Cleaning the kitchen, making beds and using my new trick of the Bubble Guppies on my iPhone to have a shower for the second day in a row.  It has to be a new record! All of our gear had to also be ready for an early afternoon birthday party. A pool party meaning the need to pack all our swim stuff including, life jackets, towels and not forgetting to take a very cute four-year old her present. For a simple birthday party we had three bags (one for kids swim gear, one for us and a diaper bag), two life jackets and a birthday present. “Will this ever get easier?” I wondered aloud.

Upon their arrival home, I rushed the girls upstairs to get changed into my carefully planned outfits, barked at Mr. L to start getting a light lunch ready as we weren’t eating until after the swimming, tucked and buttoned each girl and combed their hair. Hair. We have hair everywhere in our house. I am fortunate to possess tons of the red stuff but add a yellow labrador retriever, two girls who cannot seem to keep ponytails in and it is not surprising that I need to vacuum at least once a day. I actually invested in a top of the line Miele canister vacuum when our two previous vacuum cleaners could not handle the frequency which we needed to run the machine over the hardwood floors and ceramic tiles. Thank goodness we do not have carpet! I love my vacuum cleaner. It is lightweight, modern-looking and Jacob loves using it. When you have three or more children, investing in appliances like a vacuum cleaner that is durable and well-made, is a must!

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Working in tag-team fashion we managed to leave on time for the hour drive to the birthday party. A Barbie movie later, we arrive and pretend not to notice the looks as we race to the party room. Kissing a pinched finger for one girl, telling another one she has to be careful when closing doors and pulling a screaming toddler who keeps repeating, “Mommy, up!!” all while carrying three bags, two life-jackets and a present. We made it!

After the birthday party, the real fun part of my day begins! It is Saturday night and I’ve somehow scored another night of freedom from domestic life!  I give all the credit to my oldest friend who now lives overseas with her family and visits home once or twice a year. When she’s in town we always try to sneak in a dinner date. After a brief call yesterday where we both asked at the same time, “What are you doing tomorrow night?”  and quick consult with Mr. L , we book it.

Mr. L mutters to me, “I definitely get tomorrow afternoon off,” as I fly out the door of the mini van blowing kisses to everyone as I race to the waiting subway. Two nights in a row I’ve left him to his own devices to plan dinner and bedtime so I can’t fault him for the comment. I’m feeling generous and tell myself he deserves a brief reprieve before heading back to the office on Monday.

As I find a seat, I have déjà vu from another life when taking the subway was a daily occurrence. The cramped cars and pretending not to stare at people as you moved towards your desired stop. The crush of people as you tried to exit. Part of me misses the hustle and bustle of the city but another part likes the slower pace in suburbia. It takes me a moment when exiting the subway to orient myself. A familiar area in my other life, the stores have changed drastically and the coffee shop I was seeking out to wait in while waiting for my friend had closed down. When did Bloor Street become designer clothes shopping central?  Coach, Gucci, Burberry. I felt as if I was in another world. I remembered when the most trendy store on this stretch was the Pottery Barn.

It takes me a bit to acclimatize and after walking the same street twice peeking in random Starbucks stores to see if a seat was available and wondering why it was so busy on a Saturday at four pm, I see a wine store. “Perfect!” I think as I wanted to get a bottle or two for us to enjoy with our dinner at my friend’s townhome.

We have opted to dine-in and have a proper catch-up rather than face the loud restaurants on a Saturday night. Funnily enough, a guy is standing outside the store with two glasses of wine and as I come up to the door and offers me a glass, “Why not?” I thought and drank away.

After listening to his rave about the white Riesling I was drinking, another lady was invited in and we both nodded to each other as he offered us another taste of their feature red. His tactics work as we each purchase two bottles of wine and then I continue meandering until I come upon a bookstore I had forgotten about. Knowing it will have a have a coffee shop, I score again as a seat becomes available. Feeling like a younger version of myself, I snatch the chair knowing you have to be quick and proudly hang my coat on the back of it. Standing in line to order my typical Grande Bold Misto, I wonder if it would be easy to move back into this life?  Hanging by myself on a Saturday night, content to have a coffee while tapping away on my netbook knowing dinner is soon at hand. Comfortable and mature enough not to care I’m on my own. Then in front of me I see a cherub bright-eyed infant waving and the pang in my chest reminds me that although a respite from my daily life, I couldn’t be that long away from my kids. They are attached to me even when I am not physically with them and are never far from my thoughts. They are in every child I see and anyone looking at me waving and smiling idiotically at this infant in the Starbucks would know in an instant, I am a Mom.

The city at night.

The city at night.

As the evening goes on with a boatload of sushi and bottle of wine later, my friend and I have exchanged our joy and angst of married life with kids. There is something comforting knowing we both came from the same place and just get what the other is saying. There is no judgement and we can be as open as only two long-time girlfriends can be. After all, this lady has seen me at my worst and my best in every sense of each word. She made a point to be at my wedding by my side for the day, pulled me out of a seedy bar in university when too many tequila shots made me a very annoying drunk university student. She was my first visitor at the hospital when we had our eldest girl via emergency c-section a week earlier than planned knowing my Mom was out-of-town. She made a point to be there that night with gift in hand and was one of the first people to hold our new daughter not even noticing how much of a stunned train wreck I must have looked.

As I walked out into a sudden windy snow squall with large snowflakes blinding me as I ran to catch the taxi returning me to suburbia, I made the same wish I always did when I left a visit with her. I only wished she didn’t live so far away. As a Mom, especially juggling three, it sometimes is very easy to lose parts of yourself and become Elizabeth’s Mom or Jacob’s Mom or Mrs. L (Which still makes the independent woman in me cringe.) or even worse, “What was your name again?” How awesome would it be to have someone around I could call on a moment’s notice who could reflect back the old me that I often wonder will ever re-emerge? Friends are so important and long time friends even more so. So I will take the visits and cherish them and continue sneaking in our dinner dates whenever I can.

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