Last night, Paul kicked me out of the house.
He came home from work, took one look at my face, and realized that if I didn’t leave for a couple of hours, he might next be visiting me in a place with fuzzy slippers, muscular nurses, and bars on the windows.
Have I mentioned that Caleb is three? It took him a while, but he has finally discovered how to use his voice to make that one perfectly pitched, three year-old whine that is designed to drive spikes into your brain and dig down under your skin with its repetitive, nasal relentlessness until you find yourself curled into a ball in the corner of your own closet with a facial tic and a pillow over your head.
Or maybe that’s just my kid.
If whining is a form of self-expression, Caleb has elevated it to an art. And yesterday, I could do no right. Every suggestion I made was met with a stony, “No! I don’t wanna (fill in the blank). NoooOOOO!” Most often, this outburst was followed by a tearful breakdown, punctuated with dark, baleful looks at me, as if I should be ashamed for even suggesting that it might be good to put on shoes before going outside or that chicken nuggets would make an acceptable lunch. What kind of heathenish mother am I to insist on regular naptimes and turning off the TV after Sesame Street is over? (I’m sorry, but no amount of whining could make me sit through an episode of Teletubbies. They really creep me out with their technologically-enhanced anatomy and their inane baby talk.)
Anyway, my very wonderful husband saw the writing on the wall yesterday and sent me away with my book and my iPod to find a place to sit and let the red spots in my vision disappear.
I ended up at Costco. That might seem like a strange choice for someone craving peace and solitude, but I find that sitting serene and silent while the teeming crowd passes around me actually accentuates my sense of stillness. (Besides, I like to look into people’s shopping carts and make up things about their lives.) I bought a diet coke, played Norah Jones, and lost myself in a great novel.
When I came home two hours later, I was a new woman and a new mommy. And, wonder of wonders, Caleb was changed, too. He got to enjoy some Daddy time while I was gone, and actually seemed excited to have me back. We played Little People together until his bedtime, whereupon I was treated to a giant bear hug and Eskimo kisses, restoring those warm, motherly feelings that reminded me again of what I love about being with my children.
Amazing what a difference a couple of hours can make. I guess mommies and kids both need a break sometimes.