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Tales from the Motherhood: Christmas chaos

Mom tries to find time for herself during holiday hustle and bustle

Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 4:57 p.m. CDT

Holy holidays, Batman. We forget that the time and energy it takes to prepare for them means that other things will have to slide, and then there are the nonsense days that throw us completely off-kilter.

For example, the other day, while fielding calls from my former plumber’s insurance company on my cell phone, I juggled texts from a neighbor concerned about recent burglaries in our neighborhood, along with others from my dear teenager, annoyed about why I wouldn’t be bringing his lunch to school. Again. (It pained me to set this limit, but I digress.)

All while hanging out on- hold (on my land-line) with a company that did not have permission to draft funds from my account – but did (oh yes, joy to the world), and sifting through Internet headlines about an apparent kerfluffle involving every Target store in the nation and their customers’ compromised credit cards. Shoot. I did shop there, once, during the period in question. Ugh.

No wonder I fantasize about living mostly off the grid in a teeny, tiny, pond-side cottage in the woods, with nothing but books and a cat for company. I go there in my head a lot.

But this other, oftentimes lovely – though occasionally crazy-making – life beckons. Substitute mere details and I’m sure mine resembles yours in some pretty basic ways. It all gets to be too much, sometimes. Am I right?

Early one morning this week I awoke with a determination to reconnect with those things that help to keep me on my feet, in spite of it all. I decided to keep it simple. I will do these few things each and every day just for me, simply because they feel good.

For one thing, I’m re-committing to exercise. Not just because holiday visits with family I see maybe once a year are imminent and I wanna look cute in my jeans, but because it just feels good to work up a sweat. I’m happier. I just am. So, exercise is non-negotiable (20 minutes on the Stairmaster and a few stretches, people, not a 10-mile run, for Pete’s sake – this is me we’re talking about; and no, I’m not giving up chocolate). Does it happen every single day? Nope, but that’s my intention. Making it so makes it ever more likely, however.

I’m also reading, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, every day. On the Stairmaster at the gym, at bedtime, while I’m waiting to pick up my kids, wherever. Having a go-to book I’m into is like having a reliable friend to hang out with. Doesn’t it feel great to have a good book to curl up with? At the moment I’m working on three. Three! That’s weird. Never done that before, but hey, it’s what happened.

In no particular order, I’m reading “Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grille,” a funny, thought-provoking play by Bruce Graham; “Little Bee,” a work of fiction by Chris Cleave (oh, the writing!); and “True Refuge” by Tara Brach, a fabulous book about mindfulness and meditation. I’ve been a student of such practices for a while now, and find recommitting to them to be a true balm in what can otherwise become, if left unchecked, too-harried a life.

All of this must be working. Wednesday morning I returned home from yoga class with the plan to dive into my work. But as I pulled into my driveway I noticed that the sun was shining. Really shining. I turned off the car, rolled down the window and turned my face toward the sun, soaking it up. Cold as it was I was comfortable. In fact, my face felt warm. Really warm.

I ran inside, grabbed my laptop and a cup of tea, and sat there in my sunny driver’s seat for three hours getting my work done until it was time to pick Noah up from school. Maybe this makes me eccentric, but who gives a hoot? It felt great.

Crazy life? Holidays? Relatives? Bring ’em on.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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