These days it seems I live in a hot house of never-ending upheaval. Maintaining my composure, not to mention enough focus to get any work done, is a daily struggle. Yes, I set my daughter up for an exciting summer of different camp programs. And, while she comes home every day sweaty and smiling, she still has energy to give her mom a lot of sass.
Stress and strain at home have made her prickly, and I have to remember to be gentle (but firm) with her. Meanwhile, it has been more than a year since my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She is doing much better these days, but the doctor’ still won’t let her stop getting chemo. Understandably emotional and sometimes sick, she thinks they may keep her on chemo for the rest of her life. Since she lives downstairs from me, I am often on call to take her to doctor’s visits. Somehow, leaving Jersey to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel in the middle of the day tends to take a bite out of my work day, you know? It’s also a bit distracting to be in the home office working on a deadline and be interrupted by a call from mom, who needs me to come downstairs and disconnect her chemo pump (which entails, in part, pulling two needles out of her chest.)
Then there is my sister, who is severely disabled from a car wreck she was in years ago. When the heat wave hit, my sister (who has a small apartment in upstate New York and nearly round-the-clock caretakers) did not have an air conditioner. I had to intervene and make sure she got one; everyone was worried about her paying the electricity bill. I was worried about her dissolving into a puddle of sweat.
Somehow it all works, but it isn’t easy. When my mom is up to it, she cooks — which is wonderful since she is an amazing cook and we’ve missed her meals so much. On some hot days we’re treated to one of her beat salads and there is a nice herb garden blossoming in the back yard. Last week we double parked near the biggest farmer’s market in town and took turns carrying watermelons across the street to the car.
But the family drama has of course taken it’s toll on my own little nuclear family upstairs (which often seems to be on the verge of a meltdown). And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for me. It’s been literally months and months since I got a hair cut and my toes, hot pink and terribly chipped, were really bumming me out this week. So, on Saturday, I decided — that’s it. Even if it means taking my kid with me, I am going to get my toes done at least.
We walked into a nearby salon and I had a flashback: it was the place I went one of the first times I ever left the house after becoming a mom. It was snowing like mad, but my husband was going to stay with our newborn and I was going to go out and get a pedicure. I was still getting over the pain from my C-section and bending over my toes was out of the question. I remember sinking into the chair and looking at all the chic young, carefree women getting their nails done next to me. They were flipping through celebrity gossip magazines without a care in the world. It hit me how time had shifted for me; it would never just be me, or me and my husband again. I had a limited amount of time, and I had to learn how to maximize it and enjoy it.
After I got my toes done, I put on my boots and tromped through the snow, picking up a roasted chicken and fruit for our dinner and happily drove home on the slippery streets.
This weekend, my little girl was there with me, getting her nails done is a sea-foam green. I picked up a soft, pretty pink for my toes and looked at the name of the color. It was “Spare me the drama.” I knew I had the right one.
Maybe my toes will be the only calm thing in the house this week, but I know that I will continue to seek “me time” and pursue self care, however I can. Oh yeah, and I signed the kid up for four more days of summer camp.
This is an original Jersey Moms Blog post. Theta Pavis, a New Jerset mom, is a poet, writer and editor. She never misses a deadline but can’t seem to keep up with the dishes.