My wife is utterly devoted to our children. She does whatever it takes to see to it that their young lives are full and happy. This is a wonderful thing to see, and it warms my heart. It also makes it such a shame that this is the woman with whom I have to compete in the ruthless tug-of-war for “me” time.
I could go on and on about how deserving my wife is of every moment of “me” time she can grab, but this is, after all, a competition.
I first truly realized how much a competition it is when she explained to me that I got my “me” time when I went to work. I get eight hours a day all to myself, with no needy, helpless, little people to distract or make unreasonable demands upon me. That’s the way she sees it, anyhow.
It is too bad that I can’t mow the lawn from work, because that is the sort of thing I do with the rare snippets of “me” time I find these days. In fact, my “me” time belongs almost completely to our homeowners association. It is devoted to some sort of mowing or trimming, necessary to keep our property’s appearance at or near the minimum acceptable standard. I begin to feel like an indentured servant.
I would like all of our concerned neighbors to know that our grass is not long because I am inside playing video games. I am trying to get out to tend to the lawn, but I am being hindered by certain burdens. There is a 110 lb. woman draped over my shoulders, a three-year-old with his arms locked around my ankles, and a newborn hanging by his gums from my earlobe.
The woman is on my back because her schedules show that my “me” time ended when I took off my necktie. The boy is wrapped around my legs because there is no way I am going out to play with a loud, dangerous piece of machinery without him underfoot the entire time. The baby merely figures that, if he clamps down hard enough, long enough, he is bound to coax some milk out of this weird nipple at the side of my head.
On Wednesday evenings, my wife takes the boys to her moms’ group. The anticipation with which I look forward to this is shameful. It is my opportunity to enjoy mowing the lawn without distraction. Mowing the lawn doesn’t require inordinate concentration; you walk around a rectangle with an ever-shortening perimeter. Yet, it is very easy to mow Lucky Charms shapes into your lawn when you are constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure your little helper doesn’t follow the neighborhood cat into the street and wherever else a cat-about-town needs to be on a spring evening.
There were days, long ago, when I would have spent time playing computer games, or frittered it away on those wasteful activities known as hobbies. Not anymore. Now, if I find a moment that is not owed to my sons, my wife, or my fellow homeowners, I try to work in a little reading or writing. You are enduring one of the fruits of my “me” time even now. It’s more a dried prune than a plump, juicy watermelon, but you harvest what you can in these precious moments.
It turns out that I don’t miss computer games, home brewing, or any of my former, solitary activities all that much. My sons are much more rewarding. They are more fun than any of my erstwhile hobbies, which is fortunate because they own me. It would be nice if I could just find a little more opportunity to read and write, but I guess I’ll have to arm wrestle my wife for that.