This past Saturday was busier than most. The day’s schedule started with a family trip to church for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for our seven year old. After a confession, which was no doubt filled with the many ways she annoys her little sister, there was Easter shoe shopping to be done, followed by a quick lunch, before moving on to talent show rehearsals for our young ladies. Finally, there was a hip-hop birthday party to attend at the end of the afternoon. My husband and I came up with a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy and we both knew exactly where we needed to be, with which child, throughout the day.
The birthday party was last on my list and it was a drop-off. I figured I’d fit in a quick trip to the gym while my daughter learned new dance moves and ate birthday cake. In the frenzy of scheduling the day, I failed to notice that the party was three hours long. So after a lovely, non-rushed workout that actually included a full stretching session instead of the usual 30-second hamstring yank, I realized I still had close to two hours before needing to collect my daughter.
I was twelve blocks from home; just far enough to make me take a moment to think about what I should do with this unexpected chunk of time. Fairway popped up first in my mind, followed by the trip to the hardware store for the light bulb that I keep forgetting to buy until I have to search for clothes in my dark closet. Next up was the pedicure I desperately needed, only to be chased away by the birthday gifts yet to be purchased for next weekend’s parties. I easily ran through at least ten ways to spend this time (which was now down to 1 hour and 40 minutes).
I reached into my bag to get my phone and spotted the great new book I had just started. Like most moms I know who love to read, I only squeeze in a few pages at a time, on the subway or right before my eyes close at night. The lazy afternoons of getting lost reading an entire book (much less a chapter) are all but a distant memory. And with that exact memory, I made my decision.
I giddily ducked into the first cozy pub I saw. I took a seat at the bar, ordered a craft lager and some hand-cut potato chips doused in vinegar and put my phone away. I flipped to my dog-eared page and for the next hour I was in a state of absolute bliss. No one needed me to be anywhere. In fact, no one even knew where I was! My to-do list had long since vanished from my mind, as I excitedly delved into my novel.
I read and read… uninterrupted, totally engrossed, while sipping and crunching away. I think I smiled (like a weirdo) the entire time. Once in a while, I’d look around at the people in the bar. There was a mix of the usual suspects. Couples on a lazy date, groups of friends who got louder with each round ordered, the old men who seem to be fixtures at all bars.
I started having flashbacks of Saturday afternoons of what seemed like a lifetime ago. The many afternoons during my twenties spent meeting friends for long luxurious brunches or mid-afternoon drinks. Grabbing sandwiches and a blanket, and hanging out in Central Park for hours or going to multiple movies in one weekend. I vividly remember those afternoons, which were completely free of responsibility. I even recalled the afternoon naps of my past!!!
I have such fond memories of those single days in the city, and yet I wouldn’t trade any of them for what I have now. Like flipping through pages of an old photo album, for a split second, you’re right back in that moment in your history and it all comes back so clearly. Yet, when you turn the last page of the album, you’re happy for the memories, but just as happy to put the album back on the shelf and resume your current life. My husband and kids are my world now, and as hectic as our lives might be on any given Saturday afternoon, it’s exactly the way I want it.
Having said that, what made this particular hour-and-a-half all the more delightful was that it was unforeseen and as a result, all the more appreciated. Just as I was finishing my chapter, two friends, who also were due at party pick-up, texted me. Both had opted for pedicures during their solo time. They met me and looked as relaxed and recharged as I felt.
Time is a funny thing. Most of us feel like we never have enough of it and that it passes too quickly. We try to make the most of it by using it as efficiently as possible. But when a little bit of it comes to us unexpectedly, it can throw us for a momentary loop before we realize just how enjoyable it can be, if we let it.
I know that the years will continue to pass in the blink of an eye and I have a feeling my husband and I will be somewhere having a drink on a Saturday afternoon in our future, with our girls off at college (Ivy League, of course). We’ll reminisce about the hectic Saturdays of their childhoods, until it’s time for us to get the check so we can make it to our matinee!
Maybe next time I find myself with some unexpected time on my hands, I’ll opt for the pedicure chair or buy a new pair of shoes. Or I just might be back at the bar with a new book, looking up from time to time and flipping through the album of memories in my mind. Hopefully, I’ll be just as happy with my past, more than content with my present, and still looking forward to my future.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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