It has taken most of the last 39 hours for me to relax. And while I am pretty peaceful person, that’s saying something. Though what it’s saying, I’m not sure.
This is the weekend that I have been looking forward to for weeks. It has been planned for, packed for, and paid for. My husband is spending the mornings of each day this weekend performing Christmas carols and playing guitar, at one of my favorite nice restaurants, while children get a free brunch, and meet Santa Claus. All the proceeds go to The Salvation Army Food Bank, which makes the air crackle with good cause and holiday cheer.
While I have “helped” by maintaining the children and household without a second set of hands for the last several weeks of rehearsals, I am now officially off duty.
It is the kind of thing I find myself daydreaming about in between shuttling my five amazing children to activities and errands, homeschooling, cleaning house, and cooking. A whole weekend. Away.
Nothing to do but rest, write, and read more than a paragraph or two before succumbing to sleep. Oh, and spend time with my husband when he isn’t performing. Maybe even eat a few meals where people serve me, and the only food I cut up is my own. While it’s still hot, even. Dear Diary…
In one daydream, I managed to squeeze in a massage, hair appointment, and pedicure, all before my husband’s five hour performance was through. Then, the new and vastly improved me made it back to cheer him on adoringly, before raising my perfectly portioned pink champagne mimosa in toast.
A girl can dream, right?
But, it turns out, that’s all it was.
I mean, I’m here. We’re here. My husband is once again clad in a crisp new button down, a red velvet jacket, and a Santa hat. A look that caused several children yesterday to question if he actually is the real Santa. Perhaps, if Santa shaved and stayed on the Keto Diet for a few years, he would resemble my husband. While I seem to resemble the classic Mrs. Claus more everyday, without actually trying.
Was it sweet, to watch little girls in Christmas dresses dance while my husband played a rousing rendition of Frosty the Snowman? Yes, it was. Will I always remember the way their curled hair bobbed up and down, adorned by bright red bows, their mothers straining to capture the cuteness with their iPhones? I hope so. Did I go get any of the aforementioned treatments done? No, I did not.
The only time I left the hotel was to stop by a clothing sale for my children. I spent most of my time in the store on the phone actually speaking with my children, and all of my time in the store missing my children.
From the moment I got to the hotel, I have thought of little else. A heated pool in December? My kids would love this! Polar Express on AMC? One of their favorites. Even though we own it. Even though we watched it last week, while drinking hot chocolate at just the right scene.
Have you ever done that? Have you ever wished for something, and then gotten it, only to realize that it isn’t what you really wanted? That you already have what you really, truly want?
I have, and not just this weekend, but also this weekend.
It’s nice to stay in a suite. It’s amazing to have a queen bed all to myself when I want it, be the meat sandwiched between layers of down, softer than white bread. To have the ability to choose not to set an alarm in the morning. To have the time to hypothetically do all the things I usually don’t prioritize. Two hot showers a day, unbalanced food groupings, the ability to scroll through social media without thinking of the example I am setting. An exercise room I don’t have to drive to.
But, you know, none of that is all it’s cracked up to be. And none of it can beat what I have at home. Okay, except for the down. So. Much. Down. I feel like the princess and the pea. Only, without the pea. My five year old little sweet pea, who crawls into my bed every night, because she needs part of her (usually her feet), to be touching me (usually my spine).
It’s a heck of a tight rope we parents walk. And sometimes I get caught up thinking that it’s rest and self care that are going to help me not fall off. I’m not discrediting those things, but it turns out that for me, they aren’t what give me balance. In addition to my faith, the pole I’m holding onto, as I put one foot in front of the other, is my children. The everydays. The miracles hidden in the mundane. The extraordinary beings that I serve while clothed in the aprons of the ordinary.
The truth is that I have fallen, hook, line, and sinker, in love with this life I am living. Glub, glub, glub. Not with the laundry or dusting, not even with all of the constant cooking. But, overall, with all of it. And I never even saw it coming.
C.S. Lewis, that old genius of a man, said that, “Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work.” The thing is, I know that. I live that. I didn’t need to come to a hotel for two nights to remember that. That’s not the point. Or is it?
An hour ago, a stranger knocked on my door and announced, “Room Service.” He gave me a tray with a silver colored metal lid. After tipping, I closed the door and did a short little happy dance. I ate my breakfast in the quiet. It was nice. I hope to do it again in 10-15 years. But in the mean time, I hope for loud. I hope for open mouths, for my baby birdies to never be too self conscious to silently ask for a bite of whatever I am eating. I hope for spontaneous pillow fights, dance parties in the living room, mom jokes, and mysterious blue congealed substances that have bonded with my dining room table.
What I really want, is what I really have. Because I won’t always, and that makes it precious.
It is time and pressure that turn a lump of coal into a diamond. Apparently I’m not so different. The responsibilities that rest on my shoulders, that squeeze and make me uncomfortable, that make me question if I have more to give in that 24 hours, those things, are what are helping my own becoming. Those things, are what is stripping away the qualities that are good for only short term heating, and replacing it with something lasting, and transparent. Something worth keeping.
The air I am breathing is too beautiful and rare for me to wish it away on a sterile oxygen mask. While this has been “nice”, I can’t wait to check out. My insides are already filled with butterflies, fluttering. What a homecoming it will be. To leave the lap of luxury for the arms that encircle me.