The whole pot of tea
I've made a promise to myself. At least once a week, I'll brew a whole pot of tea. And I'll drink it while it's still warm.
It's an incredibly mundane resolution, but it represents so much more than just the caffeine indulgence.
Monday to Friday I make single cups of tea, puttering around before leaving the house for work, juggling loads of laundry and breakfast requests. Sometimes I boil the kettle several times before actually remembering to pour it over the tea bag in one of my favourite blue mugs. Just as often, it gets cold while I make "eggy sandwiches" or oatmeal.
At the office, I buy a second cup of tea at the little tuck shop on the first floor of the Toronto Star building. I usually only manage to drink half or two-thirds of it before it gets cold.
But my new aim is to slow down long enough to (almost) single task as I drink a few cups of tea. For the last two weekends, I've headed to my home's enclosed porch to drink my pot of tea while reading an actual book or newspaper. Not on my laptop. Not on my iPhone. Instead, on my bottom under a blanket (while the mornings are still cool), for the duration of approximately three cups.
As parents, the idea of a few moments to read and sip a favourite hot drink can seem so elusive. Granted, it's easier for me to accomplish this than it is for some. I no longer have a baby who needs to be breastfed every few minutes. Because I share custody of my kids with the boys' great dad, I have a some structured time in my week when I'm not with them (painful at first, but something I've come to appreciate for its silver lining).
However, I maintain that it IS possible for anyone to slow down long enough for a pot of tea or a second cup of coffee. Maybe you'll still have munchkins running around. Maybe you don't have a partner with whom to trade off, or perhaps you're just so in the thick of baby care or early-morning hockey practices it doesn't seem realistic. But all of us can make a choice to indulge in something small and virtually free. If you're on your own with tiny children, maybe you'll have to get some help from the Backyardigans while you sip and read (or have a hot bath or whatever would feel good for you).
What strikes me, though, is the number of people who do share parenting with a partner, but who don't seem to be able to break away for the shortest amount of time. There's a complex matrix here of attachment, guilt, control and inertia. We don't think we can slow down so we don't. But we're actually just making choices to keep doing things the way we always have. And we can make a different choice to grab a little time for ourselves.
Sometimes it appears as though spending every second engaged with the family or our household chores is the noble thing to do. It's hard to get away from that to-do list and the urgent demands of a little one seeking someone to be Mater to his Lightning McQueen. Perhaps it would help to think of the time we carve out for ourselves as insurance against losing it on our kids when we're frustrating and can't bear to listen to another squabble or colicy cry. Because there is absolutely a cause-and-effect relationship between utter lack of personal time and our patience and tolerance.
So let's do this together. What would recharge you just a little? How can you make it happen?