There’s an A&W drive-in near us here in Vermont, and for 2 weeks I went around declaring I had a root beer float coming to me. I planned to treat myself after I turned in the first paper for my 17th century poetry class. The due date came. The due date went. I hedged. I got in touch with the professor, who was not impatient. That float seemed to hover just out of reach as I slowly, slowly chipped my way through the densest literary theory I ever hope to consume.
I got frustrated and tried staying up late to finish my paper. So Leo started getting up extra early, as if to prove the point: When you’re a mom, you can’t pull all-nighters. It’s just not the right approach. I tried leaving Leo at daycare for longer days, but by then I just ended up using my borrowed time to try to catch up on rest. Towards the end of the week, a friend came to visit and I gave in to panic. How was I going to entertain with The Paper hanging over me?
Well, my dear, infinitely wise friend asked me what had to get done and by when. Then she pointed out how much time I did—and didn’t—have. And then she made me shower and go to bed. On her second night, we kicked back with a beer on the porch after Leo went to bed, and I truly relaxed for the first time in I don’t know how long.
When Aaron arrived on Friday with my mom I thought ‘Ok, I hand over the baby and finish the paper!’ But wouldn’t you know the sun came out for the first time in weeks. For all I knew, it could have been the only sunny Saturday we’d have all summer. So we went to the beach. Leo and Aaron swam while I read on an Adirondack chair and my mom knitted. Then Leo napped in his stroller and my mom and I took a quick swim. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘it feels amazing to use parts of your body other than your brain!’
The next day, I read at a coffee shop while the rest of the family grocery shopped and hit the playground. I had one page left when it began to pour and we all piled into the car. That night, I finally got to writing my paper. And, of course, it was no big deal. I sent the paper in via email within hours (and got it back the next day—the prof liked it!).
On Sunday, I didn’t really feel like a float. Instead, I took 20 minutes away from my studying to go for a jog. I’m still sore from the sadly unaccustomed exercise, but I feel like I’ve got my head on straight again. Of course it’s hard to get back into the swing of things at school. Heck, it was hard to write papers even before I was an out-of-shape, distracted mom. And there is definitely not enough time in the day to do everything, so there is certainly not enough time to waste panicking or feeling guilty. You do what you can. And you don’t stop sleeping. How else are you going to keep doing the things you want to, and being the mom you want to be?
As for that root beer float, well maybe when I get my M.A. at the end of the summer I’ll indulge. Today, I sipped a super-refreshing mocktail on a lawn chair in the company of a good book. It’s beginning to look a lot like summer around here.