Y'all might remember that for my 2014 birthday, Tom and the boys gave me a fabulous chaise lounge for the back yard. I love it so much, and it was made even more luxurious this year by the gift of a lumbar pillow for Mother's Day.
Right now, I'm spread out on it, legs in the sunshine, head conveniently in line with a dogwood branch that's blocking the rays aimed directly at my eyes. I'm writing. Or at least, I mean to be writing. I'm distracted, happily, by the various concerts being performed around me.
The birds are chirping and chattering and singing and bullying. A blue jay the size of a chicken is in the bird feeder, while a scarlet cardinal sits below and catches all the jay drops from his greedy beak. Robins, sparrows and so many other types of birds I can't identify swoop around, waiting for a moment of entry.
When the jay takes leave -why does he?- the smaller birds hurry in to eat before the playground bully comes barreling back. All the while they sing their musical tunes. Surely they are enjoying this day as much as I am. And the "Supreme Mix" bird seed I splurge on to keep them coming.
A squirrel is sneaking carefully down the sugar maple's trunk. One eye is fixed on me, and I'm pretty sure the other is focused on the jay. He finally makes his way to the ground and casually camouflages himself by a planter to eat seeds the cardinal's not found.
It's Wild Kingdom over there. With music.
The kids had a wonderful day at camp and are now having a ball with a beloved babysitter, K, who is now more family than anything. She's making them pasta and drawing with color pastels and building Pokedexes out of old Amazon boxes. And I am out here, guilt free, on a beautiful Monday afternoon.
It took a while to get to the guilt-free part. To the "yes, it's quite OK to have a little afternoon help even after a day of camp" part. It took the advice of counselors, the support of friends, the hearty encouragement of my husband. It took an acceptance of the energy and needs my spirited boys truly have as well as the needs and limitations I have as an at-home mom who recharges in quiet solitude. The latter are no less important than the former. Believing that took a while too.
Many dread Mondays. Workers have job-reentry anxiety, children may wish for the relaxed, no-homework weekends to linger a day more. But since my kids were old enough to be in school, I have come to love and rely on Monday. Momday.
Many are busy. I always exercise and often run more than a few errands. But they are productive, I listen to NPR without interruption, I eat an unhurried lunch, and I settle. I relish not being on. K has come on Mondays for years now, a tradition that helps the rejuvenation I've just started gathering back to stick and stay. So after I pick the kids up and hand out snacks and look at art and hear all about their full days, I pass the torch to K for a bit. I am lucky to be able to do this, and I am even luckier that she and the kids are as delighted as I am to take the baton from me.
Sometimes, when she's tucked them in, and I've tucked them in, we'll sit on the deck and have a glass of wine and talk. K is only ten years younger than me and so it's easy to be friends despite the maternal'ish love I feel for her too. She's a teacher, a really good one, and I have learned from her and the way she relates to and guides children.
As the evening starts to consider heading home for the night, we hug, I'll thank her and we'll say goodbye until next week. I'll turn to my fridge and my pots and my stove, I'll think about when Tom might arrive home and what he might enjoy eating. I'll appreciate the Momday I just enjoyed and all that made its quiet serenity that much more special.