Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Quantum Physics of Days with a Toddler

I have been alone with Lucia since Wednesday afternoon—easily the longest stretch I’ve ever been by myself with her—and Andrew doesn’t get back until late tonight. Having had these days, I’m newly struck by the vastly different speeds at which time can travel when you spend days alone with a toddler.

Thursday, for example, flew. Lucia woke up at 8:15, we had breakfast, we joined friends for the egg hunt, we ate lunch, Lucia took a two-hour nap, we went to the playground, we had dinner, and Lucia went to bed. It was the fastest day I’ve had in ages.

Yesterday wasn’t unnaturally fast, but it was okay. Lucia got up at 7:30, we went to Target, went to the playground, Lucia ate a good lunch and had a decent 1.5-hour nap, and we ran a specific errand in the afternoon—small trinkets for her Easter basket—that turned out to be 100 percent successful. I set out to find a small bag of farm-animal figurines: got it. A new, larger ball: got it. Total expenditure: $4. Nice. I was tired at the end of the day, but not dead on my feet.

Today, on the other hand, is rainy and awful, and it’s Saturday, so we have nothing planned with anyone. Lucia got up at 7:00. I looked at the clock this morning, certain it was almost 11:00. It was 8:15. The day has not improved. We got out of the house to visit Barbra and Chris and Baby Alex, and when we came home Lucia refused to eat lunch and turned into a whining Fusskins. I now hear her yelling for me in the nursery after a measly one-hour nap. We have 4.5 hours to go until bedtime. It’s wet and gray. How on earth is time going to move this afternoon?

Time may, indeed, stop. And this afternoon might just break the fragile threads to which this solo mama is hanging until Andrew returns. For example, in the second paragraph, I typed “flue” instead of “flew,” and I think that may be the very first time I’ve ever, ever typed that word. Why was it in my head? Why did I dream of tigers last night? What am I going to do for the next four hours and twenty minutes? And why will spring never come? Doesn’t it realize there are stir-crazy people who need to take walks to keep even a small measure of sanity? It was even raining too hard this morning for me to get a Blue Sky muffin, which I was counting on as a morning reward. Sadness. Frustration. Rage.

Andrew might think he has a long afternoon ahead with his cross-country flight that follows his cross-hemisphere flight. But I would argue that my approaching afternoon with Lucia will be, and feel, equally as long.

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