April 23, 2010

'Me Time'

I love my kids. I love them with every inch of my soul, every drop of my existence. They are my inspiration, my reason for being. But I also love dropping them off at pre-school and leaving them there for a few hours, because that's when I get some well-earned 'me time'.

'Me time'. I never seemed to need it before I had kids. Back then, it was 'me time' all the time. I had so much 'me time', I didn't know what to do with it. Frankly, I was bored of it. I was with myself all the time, why should I spend extra time with myself?  And when my husband and I were together without kids, we not only had an abundance of 'me time' for ourselves separately, we also had an excess of 'us time'. At one point, we were sick of the sight of each other, we had so much 'us time'.

Now, things are different. 'Me time' is valuable commodity around here. Especially since the kids don't take 3-hour naps anymore in the afternoons. My husband and I battle for 'me time' regularly. Sometimes I will use going to the bathroom as an excuse to get an extra bit of 'me time', when it isn't actually my turn. And I'm convinced my husband will sometimes invent a chore that needs to be done outside in order to steal a bit of 'me time' for himself.

And when I finally do get those few precious hours of 'me time', I blow them. I vacuum, wash dishes, do the laundry, work on mialeentje marketing. 'Me time' isn't supposed to be wasted on household chores and work, is it? 'Me time', I'm sure, is for having a massage or a facial, enjoying fresh flowers, having a laugh, catching up on fashion trends in the latest issue of Elle, that kind of thing.

The thing is, though, that I get all that stuff during my non 'me time', with my kids I mean.
Having a massage, for example: If I should lie down anywhere, the kids see that as an invitation to jump on my back, which is better than any Thai massage you could pay any amount of money for.
As far as a facial goes: having kids pretty much means going around without make-up on anyway, so my face is in such good condition lately, I don't even need one!
As for fresh flowers: My daughter Mia can find a flower within seconds of being outside, with which she'll decorate the house and herself. So I am pretty much surrounded by fresh flowers, even if they are in the form of weeds, every day.
And catching up on fashion trends? To be honest, I never really paid any attention to trends anyway. I prefer to make up my own, and watch what Mia is doing. She is my trend guru when it comes to gathering inspiration for mialeentje.

Come to think of it, who says 'me time' has to be when you're by yourself? I tend to find lots of 'me time' opportunities throughout the day, like when the kids are busy playing in the dirt or when my husband is venting his frustrations about lousy drivers. For a moment, I can enjoy the sound of a breeze rustling the leaves or a particularly pretty birdsong and recharge my batteries until one of the kids get a dirt clot in its eye or my husband realizes I'm only half listening to him. So it was just a few seconds of 'me time', but a valuable few seconds nonetheless!

So, as it turns out, I actually get plenty of 'me time' satisfaction when it's not officially 'me time' at all! I guess I should re-define what I understand to be 'me time'. It's a time to rest, to think, to ponder, to dive into the lake of me... make that a dip my toes in the shallow end of the lake of me (a dive would simply take too long to manage in the few hours the kids are away). No, real deep self-exploration and peace of mind can only be achieved during an extended period of time of 7-9 hours, and the only time I can manage that is when I'm asleep. I guess I'll just have to rely on my subconscious to ensure I get the 'me time' I'm entitled to...

April 20, 2010

A Conversation with Mia

Mia: 'Mama?'
Me: 'Yes, sweetie.'
Mia: (a little louder) 'Mamaaa?'
Me: 'Ye-e-s?'
Mia: (even louder, and slightly irritated) 'Mamaaa!'
Me: 'Yes, Mia, what is it?'
Mia: (bordering on hysterical) 'Mama! Mama! Mama!'
Me: 'Mia, I'm right here, listening. What is it?'
Mia: 'Mama?'
Me: 'Yes?'
Mia: 'Muk.'
Me: 'Muk? What is muk?'
Mia: 'Mama, muuuk!'
Me: 'Mia, you need to take your pacifier out of your mouth when you want to say something, otherwise I can't understand you.'
Mia: (takes her pacifier out) 'Muk.'
Me: 'Can you ask me properly?'
Mia: 'I...'
Me: (silent)
Mia: '...want...'
Me: (waiting patiently)
Mia: '...Muk!'
Me: 'Mia, do you mean you want milk?'
Mia: 'Yeah! Muk muk muk!'
Me: 'Mia, try saying it like this: m-iii-lll-k.'
Mia: (concentrating) 'Mmm-iii-ulllk'
Me: 'Good! Now can you ask me properly?'
Mia: 'Mama! I...'
Me: (nodding)
Mia: '...want...'
Me: (smiling and nodding)
Mia: '...Muk!'
Me: 'Can you say: Please, mama.'
Mia: 'I...pyeeez...want...mama'
Me: (knowing where this is headed)
Mia: 'Pyeeze...'
Me: (stifling a giggle)
Mia: '...Muk!'
Me: 'Ok, Mia, now put all those words in this order: Mama, I want milk, please.'
Mia: 'Mama, pyeeze...'
Me: (nodding some more)
Mia: '...I...'
Me: (waiting some more)
Mia: 'I...want...'
Me: (nodding, waiting)
Mia: 'pyeeze...Muk!'
Me: (thinking: at least she got the 'please' in there) 'Ok, Mia, yes. You may have some milk.'
Mia: (seconds later) 'Mamaaaa!'
Me: 'Yes, sweetie?'
Mia: 'Mamaaaa!'
Me: 'Yes, Mia, what is it?.'
Mia: '...Muk!'

April 19, 2010

Men are from Mars, Women are from Upstate New York.

My husband is a man. Which means: 1) no, I am not a lesbian, and 2) no, I am not a single mom. It also means that, because my husband is a man, he is incredibly focused, but totally incapable of doing two things at once.

My husband's wife, a.k.a me, is a woman. That means: 1) no, he is not gay and 2) no, he is not a single dad. It also means that, because I am a woman I am able to do two things at once, but my timing sucks.

These two well-known character traits belonging to men and women can cause some really interesting - and yes, somewhat sticky - situations, as you are probably more than well aware, I'm sure. Being a man or a woman on this planet makes it pretty much impossible not to bump into someone of the opposite sex eventually. And as difficult as it is for most modest woman to admit, it's true, there's just no two ways about it...men are hopeless at multi-tasking.

Seriously, last night, I managed to get both kids in bath (consecutively - not together), finish two chapters in the book I'm reading, make out a grocery list, pluck my eyebrows, and come up with the idea for this blog post, all at the same time. It is somewhat miraculous when you think about it, and yet second nature to us women.

My husband would not be able to do all these things at once. Not that he needs his eyebrows plucked per say, but the act of performing more than one task simultaneously is just not possible for him. He says so himself, repeatedly, when I ask him to do something for me, he'll cry: 'I can't do two things at once, woman!' But this cry is not one of frustration due to his lack of the ability to multi-task; it is one of pure annoyance, since the timing with which I asked him to do a task is more often than not, how do I put it: lousy.

As a woman, I have this uncanny ability of asking my husband to do something at exactly the same moment he is preparing to do something else, a 'project', if you will. I should know better. 'A project' requires a man's full concentration, which I definitely should know, since I read 'It's A Guy Thing: An Owners Manual for Women' by David Deida. I'm telling you, ladies, this book is a must-have read for women who feel compelled (or forced) to understand the men in their lives.

In his book, Mr. Deida answers several of women's faq's about men, and explains the elaborate details of his unstoppable aspiration to contemplate, commence and complete 'a project'. If a woman should interrupt this process, the results can be, well let's face it, disastrous. This is why I am eternally grateful for Mr. Deida's research, since it taught me when the correct moment actually is to ask a man anything while he's in the midst of a project. That moment is, quite simply, never.

Thank you, Mr. Deida. I'll try and remember that in future, but right now, I have to check my e-mails, do the laundry, wash the dishes, put Bram to bed and three other things I can't remember right now but will come to me, I'm sure...

*This post has only been slightly exaggerated for literary - and naturally dramatic - purposes.