Sometimes, amidst all the craziness, I close my eyes and picture an ulterior life.
In one, I’m a 30-somethin’ year-old successful career woman. I wear nice clothes every day, and say important things to important people at important meetings — without constant interruptions. I travel where and when I want. I even exercise without childcare or packing enough snacks to entertain the toddler while on my walk (or run, since the woman in this plotline is extremely impressive).
She is unfrazzled, still a size 2, and is not lacking in sleep — or patience, friends or brain cells.
She looks good. I look good as her.
My distracted revelry is interrupted by anguished cries or blocks being thrown or the unrelenting requests for a snack (because a whopping 17 minutes have passed since we ate lunch).
For fun, and out of necessity, I’ve come up with a few other escapades to help pass the time on the days when the clock stands still and everyone shrieks and fights and cries — including myself.
One is a charming yet fearsome, voluptuous, pearl-and-house-dress-wearing Southern belle. I don’t actually know much about the South except that I was enchanted by Charleston and Savannah the one time I visited. I love the small town feel and drama of the Hart of Dixie series, so I go with that for the basics of these daydreams.
The silky drawls of the locals; long, lazy days sipping sweet tea on the veranda; stunning old Oak trees with cascading moss all add a nice touch to my southern plot. The big house with the massive garden — and a built-in cook, maid and whatever else old family money can buy.
Another one is kind of a Momma Mia meets Eat Love Pray with a sprinkle of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Foreign foods and languages and shores with breathtaking sunsets. Little else to do but swim in clear, sparkling water with my tan, slender, bikini-clad body, then falling asleep in a perfectly worn and comfortable hand-woven hammock.
However, when the winds change and I catch a hint of mysticism in the air, my mind drifts to the hippie-esque, modern (good) witch clothed in flowing fabrics and long hair. Her carefree worship for all things Mother Earth is intoxicating as she dances and sways under the full moon (fully clothed, mind you; no exhibitionist here). She lives alone in a small, feminine cottage, surrounded by mounds of books, crystals, and several cats whose moons and stars jangling from their collars match her own necklaces.
Of course in this existence I own a picturesque bookstore or some natural remedy shop; my alluring, Stevie Nicks-like voice mesmerizes anyone fortunate enough to hear it. The ocean-side town and my shop sit near magnificent cliffs, where dark storms brood and the local rumor is that I know how to soothe the angry skies.
The witch one is my favorite.
(And yes, I do need to get out more!)
But I digress. Sometimes even intentionally.
The point is, we all do it. We all daydream, fantasize, or, as in my case, grasp at the last remaining efforts to stay sane.
Such ulterior mental escapes are free, easily accessible, feed creativity and curiosity — and temporarily placate any sense of discontent.
Before you judge me too harshly, know that I am happily married. I adore my children’s’ laughter and little toes and squeaky voices. I really do love my husband, kids and life — and am happy most of the time.
But, I am also awkwardly honest. I admit that when the chaos of my three rosy-cheeked cherubims becomes too much to handle, my body remains present while my eyes glaze over in search of mental abscondence. Not because I truly wish them away but because this mama needs to breathe, and sometimes just to be alone, if only in my imagination.
Tina Fey sums up the woes of mommyhood perfectly in the movie Date Night: “There are times when I just thought about… checking into a hotel and just being in a quiet room by myself, just sitting in a quiet air-conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch, with no one touching me, drinking a Diet Sprite, by myself.”
What are your mental escapes?