This go-around, the World Cup hype is huge and my oldest son is a raging sports nutter, so he prompted me to tune in for the United States opener. Thankfully it was an evening game, on a night we’d normally be on the couch anyway watching American Ninja Warrior. But that next day I happened to notice there would be a 1 pm game between France and England and I so wanted to stop what I was doing and tune in. (Having studied abroad, there’s a soft spot in mon couer for Les Bleues since I’d often play soccer with the locals, enduring the taunts of the Frenchman who insisted the sport was not for girls. )
But those hours when the kids are at school are precious–I need to get in as much work as possible–and with only two weeks left until summer break, the meter is ticking.
Could I really do it, take time out in the middle of my workday? I texted another soccer mama to have her weigh in. ‘I’m gonna watch while I iron. Multitasking,’ was her response.
Sadly, my husband works in construction, so I had no collars to flatten or creases to press. And I’d already made dinner before the kids left for school.
Could I really sit still and just watch, without also checking some chore off my list? I tried. I really really tried. But then I saw was the stack of bills I had to pay and the piles of paperwork to get through. In the end, I probably watched a solid twenty minutes of that hour and a half game without taking my eyes off the screen to do something else.
And even that twenty minutes, shorter than a lunch break, made me feel guilty. I’m so used to running through my life, it is physically impossible to let myself spontaneously slow down. Ridiculous, right? As I got to the bottom of my paper pile, I came across a gift certificate for a massage I’d been given months ago that was set to expire. Hmmm, was this the universe giving me the okay to take a timeout? Again, I tuned out what was on the TV and made the call.
I scored an appointment for the very next day. Well, actually, the evening, because, again, school hours can’t be squandered. I grabbed the kids from pick-up, threw together dinner and rushed to bring my son to soccer practice on the way to my massage with seconds to spare. As I lay on the table, letting the warm blanket and soothing smells overtake me, I thought, ‘Oooh, this is nice, taking a play off. I should do this more often.’
The masseuse began to knead my shoulders, my back, my neck. But when she got to my legs, she stopped. ‘Ooh, that’s a nasty bruise,’ she said, noticing the giant bump on my shin.
‘Would you believe,’ I told her, ‘I managed to fall up a set of stairs. Who knew that was even possible?’
‘You were probably running around,’ she laughed.
I thought about that as she massaged my leg, and how true it was. The twins had been late for school, and I got that bruise running back into the house for something I’d forgotten, slipping on the stairs because I’d only had time to put on one shoe.
That summed up my spring pretty perfectly.
I prayed the masseuse wouldn’t notice the big scrape on that same leg, or the giant black-and-blue mark on my arm. Those were earned another time when I was, quite literally, running. My son had wanted to go for a trail jog, and even though I was tired and sore and didn’t have time to squeeze that in, I agreed. Because my rule is, if the kids want to do something active, I don’t say no. So I went the ‘suck-it-up route’ and got rewarded for my go go go by tripping over a tree root, screaming no no no. Thinking back to that moment, splayed out on my ass in the dirt, I realized the signs have been there for some time now. The universe really has been telling me to stop.
So rather than ruin the rest of my massage with my overactive brain, I put a halt to all further thoughts and let myself go. I was in the moment and it was good. I only came back to earth at the end of the hour, as the therapist was toweling off my back.
‘By the way’ she let me know, ‘your underwear is inside out.’
Of course it was. I’d gotten dressed in a dark closet, hiding from one of my three children, who always seem to want me or access to my bedroom every time I’m naked or on the toilet.
Yet another sign.
Then the therapist told me that I could take my time getting dressed, and to ‘feel free to lie there for as long as you want.’
Now the universe was talking! Still, I inched one eye open and glanced at the clock. 7:55 pm. I had to pick up my son from practice across town in exactly five minutes! So much for my full stop. I jumped to my feet, ready again to go go go.
But I really am going to try to watch more daytime soccer, and tomorrow I'm slubbing off on a workday to hit my best friend’s beach club – I'm even going to leave my laptop home. I guess I'm learning. Sometimes you just have to hit the brakes and let your engine idle.