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Friday Tired

It’s Friday evening, there’s a delicious cool in the air, and at 8.30, we’re all, yes, in bed, in various stages of

a) reading books–Samira turning the pages in Daniel Pinkwater’s The Artsy Smartsy Club;

b) peacefully rejuvenating (at 6.30, the baby gave in after a relatively napless day and after a few whimpers closed her eyes);

c) taking a rest, fully clothed, managing to get out the phrase, “Wake me so we can watch a video…” before drifting into sleep (that’d be my husband; he’ll wake up in a few hours); and

d) me, typing away, at this entry, yes, and typing up some notes for a new book. Next up as I type: the week’s to-do list, crafted with best intentions last Sunday evening, though we’d all agree that being just one week behind on email and to-do’s is actually pretty good. And after that, I’ll be entering changes to last Sunday’s finding-organization-in-life innovation: the grocery list. Basic, yes, but I’ve rarely used one. After a rejuvenating walk in the woods with my friend Mary, she left me with yet another of her working-mom household tips: keep an actual shopping list. The tip was two-part: list in hand, use online grocery delivery, in our case, Genuardi’s.com, which for a mere $9.95 will show up at your home, truck your groceries up seven steps, long haul it from the front door all the way down the hall to your kitchen table, smile, apologize for unintentionally waking the baby by ringing the door bell, make small talk, and refuse all attempts to tip. There’s a learning curve, definitely, and I still needed to step in to the local coop for fruits and vegetables, but I do say, Internet food delivery is once again saving my life. As a British friend once wryly replied when I congratulated him on a spinach lasagna he prepared and served us for dinner at his home in Brighton, “Good cooking is all about shopping.” And for shopping, apparently, I’m learning at age 42, a list can be indispensable.

It’s as cozy as pie. We used to wonder about this early-to-bed on Friday habit. Until two weeks ago. I had picked Samira up at school. The day was warm, and I got to talking with one of the dads at the playground. He was there with his two daughters. I looked at Samira, who was at that moment on the rainbow climber with her friend Jackie, not climbing, not hanging by one knee. No, the two friends were lounging on the top, with body languages that spoke of nothing but languid exhaustion.

Friday tired, I explained to the new dad, who, it turned out, had quit a corporate job to become a writer. My daughter’s Friday tired, the sort of tired you get just because it’s week’s end and you can finally let yourself feel it. He liked the phrase, as did I.

Now when we all crash before 9 pm, when eyelids slip despite our best intentions to watch DVD’s or be cultural, read a book or even settle in to a nice marital conversation, I understand it. We’re not losers. We’re not nerdy (well, perhaps a tad). We’re just Friday tired, and taking good care of ourselves.

Everyday Life

I wrote in my book The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars that one amazing piece of the parenting experience for me was that wrapped up in the most mundane acts–teaching kids manners at the playground, keeping one’s temper cool, engaging other parents–were the largest philosophical issues we ever face. Ethics of relation, of psychology, of language, it’s all there in the tedium of everyday life with children, and part of what so fascinated me about being a parent.

I find that the current political discourse on mothers and parenting (as in the entry just below this one) deadens the ease of feeling at one with parenting. It’s an alternate universe of scathe and snark. It’s quite toxic.

Which is why sometimes I must tread back to the nursery where the baby laughs while her older sister tickles her tummy, where they both giggle till the elder leaves the room and I’m left with a nursing baby and a few quiet moments to sink into the pages in <i>A Secret Garden</i> where Mary is befriended by the red-breasted robin and savor the beauty of the words. Our shared political life would sure be different if for a second, joy and desire and love could enter into the conversation.

I’m reminded of that again. Most of my days take on a very predictable rhythm for me. Morning rush, schoolbus, morning walk. Three days a week, babysitter arrives and I work. Lunch. Baby time. Baby nap. School pick-up. Play with two children. Forage dinner. Greet husband returning from work. We put children to bed, wash them first. Climb the stairs to my office and do some work.

Today Samira was off from school, and it was rainy out, so apart from a single errand to the hardware store, we stayed home. I felt once again the pull of loving to be with my kids, and being quite exhausted by day’s end, exhausted even by two children who were very well behaved. My hat’s off to any parent anywhere home with their children fulltime, because it is not easy. Still, that sense of filling time, passing time, and the rich texture of just being together–even when at times I’d rather be working, and still, we are together–so compels me. Life felt different today, and even with all those hours we didn’t get to all the projects. We didn’t get to figure out the third page of the origami book. We didn’t get to the faux stained glass project received as a birthday present. And at 5 pm, I still hadn’t had my morning tea. 5.05: I sent my chatterbox eight-year-old into another room. I poured my tea and sat at the kitchen table and fed the baby. I needed, as they say, a moment of silence. Perhaps a whole silent meeting.

It’s so important that mothers and all women are telling each other about the intimacies and ordinariness of our lives. Our language is still unhearable by the mainstream media, which has its own ax to grind about our lives. Still, we must be brave and trade stories and insights, in these new ways, with our new media, believing in ourselves and our values and our journeys.