When it comes to relaxing, I’m pretty much incapable. It’s not that I haven’t tried but in fairness, isn’t it always the least relaxing situation where someone is like, “Okay, just try to relax now,” and then you’re obviously concentrating on it and very much aware that you’re not relaxing at all and just end up biting the dentist or worse, with a pair of forceps stuck up your … you can use your imagination.
Anyway, I feel like I live in this chronic state of hyper tense, like there’s never a time when I can just (so cliche but here it goes) … exhale. I do a lot of inhaling (just air) and breath-holding (think diving record) and do you know I think I had a full-on panic attack the other day?
It started over a gallon of spilled milk and a missing cat and can I ask, is there some reasoning behind turning beverage containers sideways and leaving the tops slightly ajar? Is it a game? Do I have to play? And why is it again that I’m always the one cleaning up the crime scene? Do I win if I don’t complain? Too late. Are there extra points for cleaning the milk while mopping up cat vomit? Delectable little combination, let me assure you. How about while trying to locate a pair of sneakers that somehow ended up in the (you thought I was going to say refrigerator) bathtub? Don’t ask me how these things happen. They just do and I just end up in a further state of verklempt over spilled dairy products and vaguely verdant vomit.
I want to tell myself it’s a normal mom thing, you know, shrugging your shoulders up to your earlobes, furrowing further than any brow has furrowed before (Botox, please), hearing something crack and realizing it’s the sound of my own neck.
I think I need a sabbatical. Where do I sign up for that? Is there some kind of grant funding for moms with refrigerator-induced insomnia? I swear, I lose sleep over this stuff, like Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone, (a must-watch for Thanksgiving weekend, btw). The scene where she gets tipsy with Luke Wilson, that’s me. I can only relax with a drink in my hand. There. I said it. You want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Pour me another one, Parker and I’ll really tell all.
I think it’s the mental worry that makes me well, mental. So it’s not just the milk but all these other things, like sneaky sneakers and pee-pee pranks (who needs the potty when the cat bowl is available) that make me long for a quiet life in a cottage by the sea with no forwarding address and vertical beverages. This cottage, this oceanic oasis does not require me to cry over spilled milk (my tears will get me nowhere apparently), rescue cats from couches (for a hot minute I wasn’t sure I was getting my arm back) or come up with novel ways to keep my toddler sleeping while I transfer him into my mom van (a lot of shushing and please, do yourself a favor, never, ever, even if you’re incredibly desperate, try to carry a white noise machine in your mouth while breastfeeding your 2-year-old by way of a busy street … those poor garbage guys). Seriously, you just can’t unsee some things.
Anyway, between the pages of my crazy life, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to relax that don’t involve alcohol (next to impossible) or locking myself in the linen closet. My personal life goal is to attempt one of these on a daily basis and to do them boldly, embracing them fully … you know, kinda like my son with the cat bowl.
- Put on a pair of bright orange, oversized glasses and dance like Blippi (the man has moves). Talk in a nauseatingly high-pitched voice about anything to anyone who will listen.
- Pour pasta into a colander and stand with my face over it. Play Enya in the background and pretend it’s a spa.
- Spill milk, insist I didn’t do it. Watch someone else clean it up for me.
- Sit on the couch and delete everything in the Promotions section of my email. Pretend what I’m doing is extremely important and can’t be interrupted.
- Poke myself with sewing needles then slap on some good, old-fashioned cold cream. Look really surprised…like permanently.
- Plan to go for a walk. Make it to the end of the driveway. Realize the couch misses me and fresh air is overrated. Look exhausted/refreshed upon return.
- Take a baseball bat to the refrigerator? Too fast, too soon. I get it.
- Bite the dentist.
- Color my nails with Crayola markers. Convince myself I just saved on a manicure.
- Scoop the litter box. Isn’t it just like a Zen Garden?
- Melt a million ways to Monday when my son tugs at my leg, points to the floor, and says, “Mommy … play.”
I guess maybe I am capable.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.