Monday, July 13, 2009

Thirty Minutes of Solitude – Lost!

Ethan, my eight year old nephew spends a week with us during the summer. He goes to Vacation Bible School (VBS) with my two youngest daughters, and my oldest daughter who volunteers.

To get him, I drive north on I-95 to meet his mom, Jackie, as she drives south to meet me at our destination, Potomac Mills Outlet Mall in Northern Virginia.

Our watches synchronized, our cell phones charged, we talk by phone as we are ready to leave our homes. Because Jackie has to travel on the infamous 495 beltway around Washington, D.C., I assume I’ll get there first, which is fine with me. Actually, I am counting on getting there at least 30 minutes before Jackie. I have visions of sitting in my vehicle in complete solitude, away from all recognizable people, and away from the temptations of doing something at home and of answering the phone – a quick, little respite.

The drive is peaceful, but the anticipated destination of the COSTCO parking lot (preferably in a shaded area) with a book in my hand, is where I am specifically waiting to be. My water bottles and nuts are packed, along with my sack of four books and my book journal. I don’t know whether I’ll be in the mood to read, write, snooze, or just sit and be quiet. I am prepared for all the alternatives.

You may be wondering why the thirty minutes are such a big deal. Well…it’s summer and I’m a stay-at-home mom! Of three! Someone is always home! 24-7!

(As impressed as I am with homeschoolers, that job is probably not in my future.)

Don’t spank me.

I DO enjoy being with my kids, but after a couple of days of nonstop, sunup to sundown activities with them, I need to “not hear anything,” if only for thirty minutes.

Since school ended a month ago, each child has had numerous needs: badges need to be sewn on, shin guards and mouth guard purchased, sleepovers planned, piano and swimming lessons attended, etc. Even Layla the dog had a need – to be spayed. Hubby took care of the “transportation to and from the vet” duty, but her two days of recuperation (including a couple of pee/poop accidents) was “Mommy’s duty.” I had to give her lots of hugs and TLC.
* * * * *
So I’m close to the shopping mall, but I don’t know the exit number.

I’ve been up and down I-95 a zillion times…I don’t need the exit number.

The huge Potomac Mills sign can be seen a mile away – and I see it. The problem though: where is my exit that will take me to the other side of 95?

As I’m coming out of my “listening to the radio zone” to take the exit, I become confused.

Don’t want to pass it!

Oh, just take the next exit and figure it out from there.

Here I go!

Hey, I’m passing my “up in the sky Potomac Mills sign!!”

Oh, no!!! Could I possibly be on the HOV lane?

(sad and deflated) yep…there goes my 30 minutes…umph!

I call Jackie to explain and to ask where the HOV lane ends.

“I think it ends at the beltway,” she says.

I tell myself, “Take a deep breath Anita. Yes, you have to drive eleven miles north to the beltway (the reformed Mixing Bowl) and then eleven miles south (in the parking lot of traffic that you can see on the other side) to get Ethan. And yes, you have totally blown your respite, but it’s okay. Take another deep breath.”

Ironically, Jackie sees me on I-95, toots the horn, and we end up getting off at another exit together. Ethan gets in my car, and we continue heading south – back home.

Home, Sweet Home

What caused you to miss an exit and what did it cost you?


Hilary said...

I know EXACTLY what you are talking about with respect to the 30 minute respite. I look forward to mine which usually comes after I've run a myriad of errands but before I pick the girls up from pre-school. I usually sit in the Harris Teeter parking lot with my bottle of water, sliced apple and my books. I turn off the cell phone and just breathe. As for the missed exit, I had that happen about two weeks ago on my way to Busch Gardens. Luckily, I caught the next one, but having to forgo some quality time with me, myself and I in order to get situated on the road was a little disappointing. Here's to better luck (for the both of us) next time.

Anita said...

HILARY, thank you for telling me about your experiences. I see we're totally on the same page. :)