This momentous decision was precipitated by the convergence of three distinct factors: the bad attitude of a teenage female living under my roof, three days of continuous sibling rivalry between two of the males in my care, and (the final straw) the request from Oldest Son to assist him in the writing of an essay for British Literature on the significance of gender roles in the novel Jane Eyre.
"That's it, "I snapped. "I'm out of here."
Hence the decision to leave home . . . maybe permanently. I figured perhaps, perhaps around dinner time the children would begin to think, "Hmmm, we really are difficult on Mom sometimes. We should be so thankful for all she does for us. How could we be so irritating, self-involved, demanding, unappreciative?!"
"I'm coming too," chirped the little voice of Youngest Daughter.
"No! I need therapy . . . walk therapy. No children allowed!"
I grabbed on tennis shoes and headed for the door.
A soft, little hand touched the back of my jeans.
"Can I come too??" Large brown eyes begged. "What am I going to do here?"
I looked around the house, currently simmering with all kinds of attitude and conflict, and then out to the big, wide open outside, with its fresh air and lure of all kinds of possibilities.
"Okay, grab your shoes."
Youngest Daughter returned five minutes later, having put on a pink dress, a pink bow slightly askew on the right side of her head, and her high-heeled, white dress shoes with rhinestones on the toes. Apparently she was really, really looking forward to this walk.
I strapped her into the little umbrella stroller, long since outgrown, and we left Oldest Daughter grumpily slinging stainless steel polish at the refrigerator, Middle Sons banished for an undetermined period to their rooms, and Oldest Son pondering Jane and Mr. Rochester.
Ah, sweet, fresh air. I pushed and puffed along, letting my mind slog through the swamp of thoughts weighing me down.
First, what to do about the Hurricanes' tee-shirt order . . . or should I try and figure out when to get someone out to look at the pillar that needs repair in the living room . . . can I even remember how to write a literature essay . . .
"Mommy! I think that was a bee! Was that a bee that almost flew into me? How funny! Look at that flying bee! Ha! I just love flying bees! What's that stuff they get out of flowers? They use that to make honey; don't they? Do they get the honey out of the flower? No, no, I don't think they get it there. But how do they make honey? How do they, Mommy?"
I responded with forced cheerfulness and gave a shockingly brief description of the making of honey.
Now, where was I? Boy, I need to make several phone calls today . . . my e-mail in-box really needs to be purged . . . did I ever respond to that request for casseroles for single moms . . .
"Well, would you look at that??! Those ants have made a hu-u-u-u-uge ant mound. That must be what people call an ant farm. And there's another one. Okay, Mommy, we're going to play a game. Every time we see an ant mound we have to say, 'Ant farm! Never sit on it!' Okay, I'll start, 'Ant farm! Never sit on it!' Ha! What do they even do down in those ant mounds? How do they live down there in that dirt? Look it's spreading out just everywhere!"
I've got the volunteer list due for the basketball teams. Ugh, I hate starting out new Excel spreadsheets . . .
"Mommy!! You missed one! I can't believe you missed that one! It's huger and huger!! 'Ant farm! Never sit on it!' Ha! I won! You are just NOT looking if you missed that one! Oh . . . my . . . word! Stop right now. Look at that bug! What do we call that bug again? Oh, a grasshopper. Look at the dots on his legs! Oh . . . my . . . word! He's missing a leg! He's missing a leg, Mom! Now, if we find a grasshopper that is missing ALL his legs, we will step on him. But this one, no, he is just missing one leg. Aaaah, poor little grasshopper, Mommy! Oh, and there goes a black bug. What do we call those black bugs, Mommy?"
And so it went. I tried to sort through meals to be planned, mistakes to be fixed, and figure out whether the cryptic note on Monday's calendar indicated a dentist appointment or school pictures. Not happening. I had brought Pollyanna along, and she was not to be dismissed.
We concluded our walk, rolling down the road to home.
Youngest Daughter leaned back in her stroller, lazily crossed one rhinestoned foot over the other leg, spread wide her arms and sighed, "I'm just going to lay back and enjoy the summer!"
Is there no justice? Can a grown woman not just walk out her front door and indulge in a solid half hour of self-pity, grumbling, and stewing without constantly being reminded of the joys of fresh air, the self-important fluff of pampas grass, and the delight of watching a small boy blow bubbles on his front steps?
No, apparently she cannot.
But I found out something very surprising. Though in my solid half hour walk I had not solved one problem, organized one snarled mess, or, for that matter, had even one complete train of thought, I was calmed, refreshed, and ready to re-enter the mayhem called "home" with sanity intact by the end of the walk.
A little fresh air, stretching of the muscles, and some indefatigable joy of living will do that for you!
"The cheerful heart has a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15