There is a mysterious power that exists in this universe – no, it’s not ‘the Force’, it’s not those possessed by our benevolent Creator, it’s that ability for children to sense when Mom is up and moving around in the HOUSE.
This ability is seen largely in toddlers and manifests itself in a number of ways to foil any plans Mom has to have a bit of ‘me time’. In trying to carve out a small bit of my day that is reserved for just me, I set my alarm for the ghastly hour of 5:00 AM thinking that I will have at least an hour or an hour and a half before I have to get the big ones up and off to school. I sneak downstairs in the quiet of the dark house, turning on only one light in the kitchen and stealthily pour myself a cup of coffee. I sit down in the living room or at the kitchen table to catch on some admin or just rest in contemplation of the upcoming adventures the day is sure to bring. I don’t even go outside to get the newspaper because that would involve opening the noisy garage door. No matter how quiet I am – THEY KNOW. I see a little blonde three year old head peek around the corner to greet me or I hear the monitor begin to buzz with cries or the music of one of her three fish tanks placed on the side of the crib to keep her company while I finish my coffee. In my many years of trying to keep to this routine, I may have finished maybe two cups of coffee before sending it to the microwave for reheat since it is so hard to get up when someone is crowding your lap.
How do they know that Mom is on the radar? Is it some scent that I exude? Or is there an internal alarm (that infernal alarm, as my mother-in-law refers to it because she too knows of this power) that goes off in their minds that signals a desire for hugs, kisses and refill of a sippy cup? How is it that no matter what complex ploys I contrive, my me-time is always thwarted by this hyper-awareness of Mom activity.
Mothers that try to work from home with children on the premises know this truth about the Real Sixth Sense these little people possess. Mary Poppins or another Super Nanny could be keeping them company with all kinds of games or crafts and they would still know that Mom was working behind closed doors. If I somehow manage to hide myself away unbeknownst to them, I cannot surface for food or another cup of coffee until all my work is done because once they see me, it is all over. I have learned over the years that I either need to leave the house or they do, if I am to be productive as I need to be in my tightly-budgeted and closely-constrained work time.
Me-time cannot begin after the kids are in bed either. My husband is lucky to get a passing nod most days and I am always the last one in line for any recreational activity I have any energy for after the dinner dishes have been done, laundry folded and put away, and backpacks and lunches readied for the morrow. I get two pages into my book and I am snoozing my way to a new day.
Today I took a badly-needed personal day. That is, instead of going to work, I sent my children to pre-school and stayed home alone to write and get caught up on personal admin. My husband has had to do some traveling for his job and I am home with my brood of four. I am still reeling from the guilt of playing hooky (where did this word come from, by the way?) but I hope that in time, I will get over it. A quiet home with no interruptions during daylight hours is some consolation. As is a brief rest for lunch outside on a bright, sunny (and not humid) spring day to finish a novel I started some time ago.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back on routine, getting up pre-dawn to start my day anew. I’ll tiptoe down the stairs – hoping against hope that there isn’t a sleeping child on the floor outside my room or on the couch awaiting my imminent arrival. I’ll never profess to understand the power of this power – but someday there will come a day (and soon, I am told) when I’ll have more than enough me-time and I’ll treasure the days when there was sleepy toddler awakened by her Mommy Sixth Sense and waiting for me to share my morning.