Off duty.

As I write this, it has been approximately 1,181 days since my last day off.

Mostly, that's ok.  I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.  It's the best, hardest, easiest, most challenging, most rewarding thing I've ever done.  There are many, many, many good days where I relish in the role of being a full time stay at home Mama, and many more days than that when I relish in it at least most of the day.

Then there was yesterday.

Yesterday was neither of those things.

Yesterday handed me insomnia the night before, a to-do list that wouldn't quit, a four year old with inexplicable stomach issues, a seven year old who suddenly overnight became a surly teenager, and an overall sense of failure, discord and diarrhea.

Yesterday sucked.

So when bedtime finally rolled around, I had really had enough.  Enough of everything.  Enough of the small people who live in my house and eat my food and vomit on my recently mopped hardwood floors and who talk ALL. THE. TIME about everything and anything and especially nothing, and I was just done.

I gathered them close to me, sort of like an hug and sort of like a vice grip, then I leaned down and used my quietest, scariest, whisper voice so they would have to strain to hear and to pay attention.

"Listen to Mama, boys.  Listen very closely.  It is bedtime.  It is sleeping time.  It is time for you both to go into your rooms and shut the door and to stay there until morning.  I need to be very, very clear with you.  Mama is now off duty.  Mama will be back on duty tomorrow morning at 6am, but for now, Mama is off duty.  If you need a drink of water, help yourself, because Mama is off duty.  If your blankets get all bunched up around your feet like you hate, fix them yourselves or just deal with it, because Mama is off duty.  If you're cold, I suggest burrowing down under the blankets and waiting it out, but don't yell for Mama.  Mama is off duty.  If you get too hot, you can strip down and sleep naked for all I care, because Mama is off duty now.  If you think of an amusing story that you just HAVE to tell me, or if you have an earth shattering question about pirates or dinosaurs, save it until morning, because right now Mama is off duty.  If the monsters that live under your bed are particularly aggressive tonight as they are sometimes prone to be, I recommend turning on the light in your room and possibly taking a baseball bat to bed, because Mama cannot save you.  Mama is off duty.  There is really no reason that I can think of that you would possibly need to disturb Mama tonight, unless you are actively dying and/or being abducted out the window, and even then I would suggest trying Daddy first because Mama is off duty.  Now, are there any questions?"

I looked from one to the other of them, slowly moving my head back and forth to make sure I was getting through to them, and their eyes were wide and they were watching me carefully and trying not to make any sudden movements, like you do with a wild animal that you are not totally sure about, and they were completely, totally, utterly silent.

I nodded briskly and before their senses and innumerable questions came back to them, I said "Well, good.  No questions.  I love you and off to bed now.  Both of you."  Then I squeezed them just a little too tightly and patted them both on their confused little heads and put them to bed.

Then I fell into bed myself and slept the soundest,  quietest, most restful ten hours that I've slept in years.

And aside from the trauma I'm certain I inflicted on the boys, I'm thinking this "off duty" thing just might have to become a part of our regular routine.

After all, they're going to need something to talk to their therapists about someday.

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  1. Replies
    1. I know, right? Sometimes it feels like sever days sneak up and attack me all at once.

  2. Oh my goodness. This is perfect. I know all too well the feeling of the desperate, vise-grip hug at the end of the night. And of my rope.

    Likely they won't need therapy because of this, but save your pennies just in case.

    1. I feel certain that my parenting skills will someday pay for some therapist's vacation home. Until then, though, I'm just going to keep on :)

  3. Therapy schmerapy. I say you need an off duty day at least once a week!

    1. Yes! Who do I see to request a day off? Oh wait... That's me I guess. Sigh.

  4. You are a super genius. I suspect that scaring the hell out of them once in a while is healthy.


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