Last Friday I played hooky. It was purely medicinal, I assure you. I’m not sure if the cold weather-induced isolation has led to cabin fever, or if the constant demands of five children have driven me around the bend, but Wednesday after the kids left for school, I looked around my basement at the granola wrappers strewn everywhere, the dirty clothes balled up in the middle of the floor, the loose DVDs scattered near and far and found myself screaming, “Are you KIDDING me?!!!!!” pretty much at the top of my lungs. Seriously. I went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining. ‘Cause all work and no play makes Mommy a raving lunatic.
Hmmm… I think I need a haircut.
I didn’t tell anyone my intentions except my business partner who was nice enough NOT to say, “Yes, by all means, take Friday off work, you’ve been a complete pill for the entire month.” Which she totally, totally could have. I didn’t even tell Hubby and I tell him everything. Not because we are, you know, soul mates and I can’t bear to keep a secret from him, it’s more because I have an extremely big mouth. No. Wait. It’s that first one. Soul mates…right.
No, I didn’t tell anyone because the joy in playing hooky is that nobody knows where you are or what you are doing. When you play hooky, you’ve gone rogue. You are off the grid. I LOVE hooky — and unfortunately, have the college transcripts to prove it. But I digress.
I feel like such a baby. Hubby works sooooo hard. Physically hard. I have a really difficult time explaining to him why I can’t lift my head off the couch after 8:00 at night, when he’s been out performing manly-type physical labor for 12 hours. You have to understand, though, my kids have never run through the house yelling, “DAD! DAD! DAD!” nonstop, either. Oh, contraire. They’ve been yelling for ME ever since they’ve learned to talk. It’s like living with five little despots all vying for the attention of their one, shared indentured servant. Sniff. I know. I feel bad for me, too.
You see, I share with my little one a strong “You Are Not The Boss Of Me” tendency. And the big, fat lie of parenthood is that I, the mother, get to be the boss. My kids think it’s true. I certainly think it SHOULD be true, but it’s not. Miss Teen Wonder says, “I need a new calculator.” And what am I doing after work? Getting a calculator, that’s what. Little one has no clean socks? Mom’s folding laundry during Biggest Loser Commercial breaks. Every once in a while, my inner 7-year-old puts her foot down and throws a tantrum. The only cure? Hooky day.
I had planned to stay home and watch movies in my pajamas all day. But when I woke up, it was fifteen degrees below zero and even though they are the cause of my upcoming nervous breakdown, I couldn’t bear to send the kids out to wait for their buses in the cold. So I bundled up and spent the next hour driving kids hither and yon to their various schools. But that’s okay. The beauty of hooky day is that, unlike my real life, I am completely flexible. I can change my mind in an instant and go do something completely off-plan, which is what I did.
Okay here’s the weird thing. My day looked pretty much like every other day. I went to Target. I went to Trader Joes. But I did it on my time, dammit, and free of the constant whining that accompanies these tasks if I do them with the kids or, yes, Hubby. (Fifteen years of marriage and he STILL doesn’t understand the allure of the Target discount end cap. Jesus, man! That’s where the good sale prices are!) What was really relaxing were all the things I didn’t do; I didn’t clean a dang blasted thing. I didn’t do laundry. (Okay, one load, but I didn’t fold it.) I didn’t cook lunch. I waited until I got home, put in a movie and ate a tremendously huge bowl of extra-salty, buttered popcorn and drank a Diet Pepsi. Ahhhhhh, heaven.
I know it doesn’t sound like much. But it is, in all earnestness, all I need. A wee bit of quiet, a tiny bit of time that is mine to be as unproductive as I want to be. After that I can face the granola wrappers and the dirty socks and the incessant demands with a little bit of grace, anyway. At least that’s the plan. And it seems to have worked, at least for now.
Today I will pick up those socks, I will straighten my room, I will feed the unyielding laundry gods… and it won’t feel like an imposition. It will simply be something that needs to be done. And sometime in the future, when it all starts to seem overwhelming once more I know that I can sneak away and browse Target clearance sales to my heart’s content.
Or not. Because on hooky day, I am the boss of me. Oh, yeah!