As I type, I am penned up in The Octagon, which is what my husband and I dubbed Pork Chop's gated play area. The Octagon is crammed with books and with blocks and with VTech toys that blink and sing, "It's great to see you. I'm glad to see you too!" It's a funny little song, in that the only time I was ever glad to see a VTech toy was when its battery ran out: "It's great to see you . . . finally die."
Both Pork Chop and I have been battling a nasty cold that's left us feverish, congested, and with a hacking cough. We are two very disgusting, very unhappy campers.
Before I had my son, I confess that I sometimes relished a bad cold: they aren't terminal; they are made significantly less unpleasant with a little Tylenol and hot tea; and they present an opportunity to spend the day in pajamas, napping, catching up on Judge Judy, and garnering sympathy. When you only have to care for yourself, a cold can feel like a Get Out of Work Free card. But when you have kids, having a cold can feel like a Suck It Up Because That Diaper Won't Hold for Much Longer card. Or a Sorry About Your Chills But the Groceries Aren't Going to Shop for Themselves card. Or a Just Put Some Vaseline on Your Nose and Make Lunch Already card.
Early this morning, as I lay shivering atop a heating pad, I had a fever dream in which I was hospitalized. It was an awesome dream: Clean sheets. Trays of food that I didn't prepare. Strict visiting hours. Maybe a sponge bath. And the sweet lullaby of beeping machines pumping me full of medicine. But even as I reveled in my sanitized fantasyland, I could hear my son begin to stir in the next room. It was time to put on the coffee, do a shot of Robitussin, and stuff my pockets with Kleenex.
The truth is (and here's where the guilt gets legit), if pressed to describe my perfect day -- not my perfect sick day, but my perfect day -- I'd be alone. Not just without my son, but without anyone I love or like or am related to or work with or would wish a happy birthday to on Facebook when prompted. To most of my friends and family, I seem like a raving extrovert, but my inability to ever shut up or to ever slow down is hella tiring.
My husband is keenly aware that, come the weekend, I need at least 2 hours on my own to be frivolous -- to get a powder blue pedicure, to try on slutty high heels for a night out at the clubs I don't go to, etc. But 2 hours is, according to my calculations, 22 hours short of a day. And that's all I want -- a day.
But this dream of a perfect, lonely day comes with a latticework of conditions: The house must be clean from top to bottom. No deadlines must loom. All of my family must be out of town, doing something so fun that they never once think to call me and ask if I want to come over for meatballs. My husband must decide that he needs some father-son time with Pork Chop, and thus must speed away with our son in tow to watch the airplanes. Or to sit at a pub and wait for the kid's cheeky grin to make the panties drop. Whatever. As long as I know I'm free of people and obligations.
What? I love my kid! I love my husband! My family! My friends! But, damn, sometimes I want to sleep in. Sometimes I want to, well, here is how it would go:
- Drink coffee while it's hot
- Eat Somoas for breakfast, because no one's there to give me the stink eye about it
- Take a shower so long and so steamy that I look like a boiled hot dog
- Put on makeup. Not zit cream and lip balm. Makeup. To look pretty. Just because
- Wear dangly earrings, because no one's going to try to rip them through my lobes
- Wear a white shirt
- Wear shoes that aren't slippers or sneakers
- Go to a coffee shop to drink more coffee, even though I could have made more coffee at home
- Read a book at the coffee shop. A paperback book. None of that cardboard crap
- Write for an uninterrupted hour at the coffee shop
- Go to some kind of market (Union Market? Eastern Market? the supermarket?) and wander around like a bohemian douche, buying bread and artisan cheese and flowers like I'm going on a picnic date with myself
- Take my loot and go to Wendy's for a Dave's Hot and Juicy and a Frosty
- Go home and take a nap for 3 hours
- Wake up and eat bread and cheese for dinner
- Decide that bread and cheese for dinner is not enough. Crack open some wine
- Sprawl on the couch, spooning a bag of Tostitos
- Watch every episode of The Wire that stars Idris Elba
- Wash my face
- Go to bed
- Sleep through the night
- Miss my family