Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Me Time

I've been on a vacation from parenting for two weeks and one day. I refuse to round it down to two weeks, because every day has counted momentously. My vacation lasts another 2 hours.

I am beyond grateful for this time. I have been exceedingly joyous through this time. I love my kids but I also love myself and know what I need. First and foremost, I want to thank the people who orchestrated this vacation. You know who you are. Thank you. Thank you.

I wanted it and needed it. Anyone who is in a day in and day out relationship needs alone time. It was nice to get back to the source of Me free of guilt, worry, and boundaries of time and appropriateness. I was free to discover my own rhythms (i do like getting up early!) and what I want for dinner.

I balanced the time between ventures outside the house and work inside the house. I spent a relaxing day thrifting along Dixie Highway, befriending antique dealers in MiMo, a section of Miami I had never visited. I went to Ikea and did some political volunteering. I took up walking (and talking) with a friend. I visited a friend who recently lost her mom. I went to an afternoon showing of "The Kids are All Right." I enjoyed a leisurely dinner with friends and did not have to answer the "When are you coming home?" phone call.

I spent relatively little money, saving bucks on those daily romps through supermarkets, Wal-Marts, and Targets. Apparently when my kids are around there's never anything good to eat. I discovered that I could exist of some simple food basics such as arugula, cheese, wine, ice cream).

I thought i would write and write and get really poetic and search deep inside during this solitary time, but I was wrong. A started a new writing gig which kept my mind engrossed. I also decided that I needed to organize all the tear sheets that I've ripped from inspiring magazines into binders. That was a huge project as piles of images covered the floor waiting to be sorted. I made some crafts.I sifted through a giant bin of shells and marveled at each one's individual design and then I took photos. I baked biscotti. I watched whatever TV I wanted without consideration. I've seen "The Invention of Lying" about 8 times. It's very funny.

For two thirds of my vacation the front end of my living room looked like I was moving in or out. It was congested with boxes and paintings lined up against the wall. I was serious about cleaning and clearing out. I rented the Rug Doctor and steam-cleaned the carpets. I was grossed out, yet wildly satisfied at all the dirt that came up. I washed every sheet, mattress pad, bath mat and towel. I took the silverware out of the cutlery tray and washed it. I rearranged cabinets and threw out fancy gifted vinegars that were still sealed.

I asked my sister why I was so insistent on cleaning my surroundings just so. So matter of fact she said, "Jane, it's like taking a big shit!" Getting rid of all this stuff, getting order back was a physical and emotional cleanse. I've been bragging to friends about the hundreds of pounds i must have thrown out in paper alone.

On Sunday I finally put the girls' rooms back in order. I made the beds and fluffed their pillows nicely. The amazing thing is that each time I walk down the hallway and check on their rooms, everything is just as I left it. Time spent cleaning feels well-spent because it lasts. Cleaning for one is really, really rewarding and lasts pretty long.

Alas...time marches on and in another hour and a half I turn back into the driving, doting, rushing, yelling, negotiating, shopping mom that I left behind on July 26th. I know how good it will feel to hug my kids and to bury my nose in their thick hair. Sam will crawl into bed with me tonight and ask for the night after and the night after. Dylan will roll her beautiful brown eyes at me any chance she gets. And we will be a mostly happy reunited family.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Clinical Conspiracy

“The Today Show,” just like all the news, sometimes offers TMI as I sit and sip my morning joe. However now and again, I can find topics to sink my teeth into that I consider relevant and blogworthy.

During the 8 o’clock hour I listened in on a discussion that gave me impetus to finish writing a blog that I had started more than two weeks ago. Spurred by a WSJ article Matt Lauer led a discussion about the pronounced increase in dodging the doctor. Joined by medical expert Dr. Nancy Snyderman and finance editor Jean Chatsky, this group confirmed that making fewer routine doctor visits or being more discerning in general was tied to unemployment, loss of health care benefits, and health care plans with high deductibles.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman said people are making their own healthcare choices. For example, elective surgeries are being put off. Manageable health problems, however, are dismissed until they snowball into a more serious and therefore more expensive problem. She urged viewers to not skimp on child immunizations, dental hygienist visits, and blood pressure and cholesterol screening. Jean Chatsky said that health fairs can be a great place to sign up for some free basic screenings.

And this hot topic brought me back to the clinical conspiracy which I discovered about two weeks ago while sauntering through the personal care aisles at Target. Maybe I was late to the wave, but I was struck by the abundance of over the counter formulas that are labeled “clinical.” Toothpaste, deodorant, and face serums took on a stronger prescribed health care twist rather than being simply cosmetically unique, arousingly aromatic, or just plain new. When wetness starts to look like wellness, I am interested.

So not only are people being more discerning about what ailments are appropriate to bring to a doctor’s attention, they are self-medicating with products that are touted as one step below prescription strength. Someone who has an excessive perspiration problem can now go out and attempt to tame the sweat with a super strength clinical antiperspirant. He may spend precious time masking a more serious health lurker or stress related occurrence that can have more serious ramifications.

Is clinical really new or is it just the marketing of it that seems spanking? Haven’t clinical trials always been helpful in pumping out formulas for the general public. Aren’t over the counter products tested in labs and by doctors. I grew up, afterall, in the 4-out-of-5-dentists-surveyed generation.

And now...here’s my ad pitch for clinical deodorant:
Played to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s breakaway 1981 hit "Physical," a Newton John look-alike appears in her work out wear, legwarmers, and headband singing “Let’s get clinical. I wanna get clinical.” In one version she is alone dancing with the energy of a Flashdancer, fade out, silence and then we just see the bottle with a simple tag line. In another version our deodorant mascot dances and sings her way through a series of Jack-and-Jill bathrooms dropping off the gift of clinical deodorant to unsuspecting people in need.