I am running around the house trying to prepare for another holiday gathering. Presents need to be wrapped bought, and my house is in its normal state of cluttered chaos. Why do they need to dump the toy bins to play with one little thing? Cece has attached herself to my leg and Jackson weaseled a bike in from outside and was running over my foot, again. The girls were just waking up and their faces were glued to some device. I was letting Josh sleep in since he was fresh off two double shifts. I stood there, looking down at my ratty sweat pants tucked into my slipper boots and stopped in the now familiar command: breathe
“Hell of a winter we are having, eh?” An imagined passerby calls out to me smiling at the two toddlers playing around in the back yard. I tell myself they are some how missing the piles of dog poop were buried under the snow then thawed back out. Another thing on my to do list. I sigh as I am oddly reminded of the three-inch layer of dust on my windowsill. Jackson and Cece are battling each other with sticks as the dog darts out of the way. They are probably too young to be playing with those sticks. Oh wait, I stopped giving a shit what people thought especially in the judgment free zone that is my back yard. The trees are shaking in the loneliness that comes about when all your leaves have fallen. The breeze causes a ripple shiver in my shoulder. My watch dings. Breathe. I inhale, my gaze softening on the babies giggling around the yard. I exhale these insignificant moments of my day that I
will most likely forget tomorrow. I just breathe.
I take the first few warm sips of the coffee that I will likely leave in some odd spot, like the bathroom or on a bookshelf, and never finish. I ignore the pile of dishes that need to be loaded into the dishwasher, once it is unloaded. I try not to notice the trash needs taken out and the floor could use a mop. My journal is open on the unlit stove and I am leaned over pouring a few words while I eat my oatmeal. I can see the toddlers out of the corner of my eyes. Cece is standing in her high chair barely eating her eggs. Jackson is singing happy birthday to her. It is a game, he leans in while singing and she swats him away. Our dog, Penny, is eagerly watching in hopes a few eggs escape. This game has completely diverted their attention from me. The watch chimes in: Breathe. I take it in, this minute of solitude, untethered from my children, and my life.
I sit in the newly warmth of the darkness, decadent as the bourbon drink I just poured. Today, after a month of illuminated holiday cheer, I didn’t turn on the lights. Breathe. My watch reminds me again. This little piece of wearable technology, once again dictating what I needed at that moment making me wonder who was really in charge these days-me or my smart watch. It was a gift, and rivals in comparison to the last time my mom bought me a watch for Christmas, 1986 – The Watchamol. I immediately added the Minnie Mouse face so now Jackson and Cece constantly press on it just to hear the time in her voice. I flip my wrist and poke Minnie’s belly. She giggles and tells me the time. Its 11:52. Good Night. She sings, making it impossible not to smile. Ok, I can see why they are obsessed. As if my dark living room wasn’t comfortable enough, Law and Order plays in the background like an old friend calling to check up. I scoff as Fontana makes a comment about having to trudge through the snow in Gucci loafers. This is easy. I am alone. No conversation, no lights, no toddlers. I am done mothering for now and I am done talking for now. Politics, weather, advise-sweet unsolicited advice-shopping, food, family gossip. I stumble to replay the whirlwind of holiday banter while a commercial reminds me of holiday sales I hope not to attend. Then I breathe. My watch reminds me to breathe. I never imagined I would need a reminder to breathe. It is a natural survival instinct, right? But yet, I have these moments where my chest tightens and I am completely lost in anxiety and forget the most basic of instincts. I love the holidays, but as a Mom I know that I don’t get many moments to myself. We are always getting ready for something and I am the command charge of the whole operation: and I love it. But it can be downright chaos at times. As I look back on this last day of 2016 I realize I am exactly where I want to be. The situations that brought me here truly tested my strength. There were so many moments that I couldn’t breathe, paralyzed by disbelief and wondering: is this really happening? But then there was the adventure. The time this year we drove away from all our problems and took a few weeks to just breathe. When my watch reminds me to breathe: I close my eyes and picture the serene drives through the mountains. And I just stop and breathe.
Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be