Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dirty Little Secret #81

I just sat down on my bed, and turned on Oprah.

Seven years ago, when I went slightly crazy and quit my teaching job mid-year, I spent a fair amount of my first few unemployed weeks sitting on the couch and watching TV. But not, Oprah. Usually Behind the Music.

Newly married, I wasn't yet pregnant with Lizzy and I was a little gun-shy to go out and get myself a new job. You know, because of my slight case of crazy.

After a few weeks, a trip to Paris with my parents, and a little Paxil, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, opened the windows to the smell of Manhattan's early spring, and found a job in a large and venerable fabric store in the fashion district. It didn't last long, although I credit part of my success to the experience. But I got pregnant.

It was terrifying: married one year, not gainfully employed, still paying for the master's degree I was no longer using. But a dear friend assured me that I could do this. It was serendipity, she said. I would rise to the occasion.

And I did. I stayed home and found a new person in parenthood. But the experience of that long winter of 2001 made me vow that I would stay off the couch. I would not be the stay-at-home-mom who watched her shows while vacuuming.

And I'm not.

But sometimes it's nice to sit. And do nothing. My dad used to come home from work, pop a handful of loose M&Ms from the jar, and sit down to watch Peter Jennings on the ABC nightly news. It was a quiet time, with his arm thrown over the back of the couch. Next, we would sit together and watch Jeopardy!

Now Lizzy is playing quietly in her room, Teddy is still napping, and my sewing for the day is done. It feels nice, to take this break instead of sewing to get ahead for tomorrow or going downstairs to unload the dishwasher. Zippy and I are snuggled up on the pillows.

I wonder, sometimes, how I will fill my days next year when the kids move towards full-time school days. I plan to volunteer at the local children's crisis center. And maybe I'll join the gym.

Maybe sometimes, I'll just sit for a few minutes.

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