Substitute my brother’s white Mitsubishi Eclipse from decades ago for our silver Honda Odyssey minivan. And my 20-something self with my bigger 40 year-old self with pregnant belly protruding onto the steering wheel and basically, we have the same scenario.
When I was younger, I would blow off steam by driving in the familiar San Fernando Valley streets with music blasting. I hadn’t realized that driving alone to de-stress was still an option for me until this past weekend. Lemme back up.
Spring Break was upon us and this year, it went on for seven full weekdays. So counting the weekends, it was for 12 days straight. Kevin took one day off for our trip to local Bear Mountain. I noticed during the break that my boys have grown much bigger in stature and presence. I could not physically control them like I could when they were morsels I could lift in and out of their double stroller.
The most stressful moments of Spring Break were when we had to get somewhere by a certain time.
Like on Good Friday, the tail end of that first week of break. The boys entertain each other so well these days that I am practically a third wheel to their inside jokes, songs, and secrets. Until they fight. Right when we had to go get the car to get to our parking-challenged church for Good Friday service, Fight Club was at it again.
Perhaps because this was the end of a fun but long week, I started seeing red. I wanted to swat them. We somehow made it to church and I noticed that en route to church, they had fallen asleep. They must have woken up earlier that morning and that was why they were more rambunctious than usual. But I didn’t care.
I needed to tap out. I counted the minutes ’til Kevin could meet me in the church parking lot when he could tend to the sleeping angels and I could take just Me Myself and I (and obedient, compliant, quiet Belly Baby) into the sanctuary. I hoped Kevin knew from my terrible mood to not try to find me once we were in the sanctuary. BECAUSE I NEEDED ME SOME SANCTUAAAAARY!
I sat in the balcony, my favorite section. I couldn’t even sing or pray. I just kept fanning myself, just feeling beyond drained from the week of quality time with my boys. I was at a -10 in self-care. I didn’t know how to get them to listen to me, these growing, galloping horse boys in our apartment. In some ways, this stage was much more taxing than a baby with no visible neck, just sitting there, with all of its delicious rolls and sausage arms to objectify and nibble on.
As I was fanning myself, Kevin texted me, “We are downstairs,” right after I saw them walking in. Because I was so tapped out, my first instinct was to hide! (Family – if you ever read this, I LOVE YOU. But I am also human and I need to tap out and recharge). My beautiful Denzel-smiling Micah located me right away and looked up at me in the balcony. He beamed like he and his Fight Club partner hadn’t just put me through the wringer. I smiled back but didn’t budge when he gestured for me to come down to their level.
I gazed down below at a family of six, sitting together, the youngest nuzzling into Dad’s neck. Father, Lord, help me, I just can’t right now.
I was able to savor my solitude throughout the beautifully planned special Good Friday service. I wanted to clap back with an exclamation of, “Glory Hallelu!” when Pastor Rich Villodas pointed out in his sermon that Jesus did not say, “You are a good good Father!” when He was being crucified on the cross. Instead, even Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” And we can take comfort in that because it gives us permission to be human and voice our anguish to God.
And man, I felt VERY human on Good Friday. I couldn’t get over how hard of a time I was having just taking care of myself, Belly Baby, and Wrestlemania Kims. As I was headed to different, interactive centers set up throughout our church for focused meditation and reflection, a couple people kindly informed me, “I saw your kids in the Elephant Room!” as a way of greeting me. Usually, I would beam at any mention of my kids but this time I thought to myself, “Good, they there with they Daddy and Mama here in the Upper Stage Room, still ketchin’ her breath.” I did peek in without being seen and was relieved to see that they were enjoying a jellybean Jesus activity instead of absorbing my Tapped Out Toxins.
I was still emotional even after we were able to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt at twilight with our friends. I told Kevin, “Hey, I know I am repeating myself but I am so tapped out. I cannot repeat another day of Fight Club. It sounds extreme but I cannot take care of anyone tomorrow. Please.”
Kevin heard me but still said, “OK, but remember, tomorrow I have to check out open houses and all you would have to do is take the boys to soccer.”
Tread lightly, brother. “All you would have to do?”
I got salty because that sounded tame for any other day but I was tapped out. And taking the boys to soccer meant walking them over, taking them back home, feeding them, keeping them from fighting, and little details you don’t quite think about. Suddenly, I had a lightbulb moment.
“Hey, *I’MMA* go to open houses and you will take them to soccer. And I will return laaaaaaaate.”
That is how I found myself on the highway, blasting my radio and driving like a free bird. I always thought I hated driving but I had to check myself and qualify that: I hate driving in our congested neighborhood with my precious treasures in the backseat, demanding The Weekend and Ariana Grande at the same time, but driving ALONE AND UNENCUMBERED with full control of the radio on a highway to a land of parking spots galore!?
I NEEDED TO DRIVE ALONE BY MYSELF ON THAT SATURDAY! Sure, I came back and reported to Kevin that one house was very close to a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut and that was cool so now he needs to go re-visit houses for me, but that Saturday of Solitary Driving saved me.
Added bonus: Kevin reported back to me that his staying home with the boys was just what he needed to rest!
We reaccommodated our roles and were much better for it. I drove home, loaded with gyros and Greek chicken soup that night and was able to miss my boys again. Recharged for Resurrection Sunday.
Now we lookin’ for more ways to reaccommodate our roles after I experienced some cramping and contractions that we first chalked up to a rare Taco Bell consumption.