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Chris is working late tonight. They’re feeding him, which is nice for him. And of course it’s overtime, which is good for us. When he texted me this information I sighed and threw a couple of pot pies into the oven. Braeden is at a friend’s house for dinner, and there was no way I was going to attempt to put dinner together at the 11th hour. That’s a talent Chris possesses that I do not. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that in our home, he’s the chef. Yes, even when he’s working. He enjoys cooking, and I do not. I love to bake, but the notion of coming up with new meal ideas and actually making them every night holds zero appeal. Add to that the fact that Avery is not about to let me spend an hour in the kitchen, so pot pies it is. Even Chris requires me to distract Avery so he can cook. She is an amazing little girl, but making things easy does not appear to be in her job description.

The house seems empty without Chris and Braeden. I can’t say it’s quiet, as Avery provides a non-stop soundtrack, but it still feels like something is missing. I’ve thought about this before, but I would not do well if Chris had a job that required travel. I have several friends whose husbands are M.I.A. on a fairly regular basis. They manage, as I have no doubt I would, should I be forced to. But I think I would do just that, manage. Chris and I have spent relatively few nights apart since we moved in together in 1999. I’d be guessing, but I would imagine the total in all that time would be maybe two weeks. I prefer it this way. I do require some alone time, but not a huge amount. I spend enough time trapped within the confines of my head, with or without company. To be physically alone is therefore not a big requirement. In fact, it’s probably ill-advised. Too much isolation tends not to be healthy for me.

I like to be busy. It makes me feel normal, or as close to normal as I ever feel. I originally had loose plans with a friend for a visit “sometime this week.” Then on Monday I realized that I had scheduled myself into a corner. I pick up Braeden every afternoon around 2:30 PM, except Tuesday, when he gets out approximately half an hour earlier. I pick up a friend of his after school – a different school – on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Bottom line, I am only easily available until 1:30 or so to begin with, depending. Avery and I have Mommy & Me on Monday mornings for two hours. This Tuesday I had coffee with a good friend from from late morning until early afternoon. This morning I started a Bible study class that runs about two hours (it includes free babysitting for Avery, which is the only reason it works). Friday mornings we have music class for an hour, and then starting this week we also have a gymnastics class on Fridays that runs from 1:45 – 2:30 PM. (That one works because it’s only five minutes from Braeden’s school.) Luckily for me the friend I’d made loose plans with was able to meet me at the mall yesterday morning for a couple of hours. I am not normally a flake, but I am not used to thinking of myself as busy. I’m glad it all worked out; I would have felt awful otherwise.

Did I mention that since she’s been getting up earlier, Avery has been napping around 11:30 AM or noon? She usually sleeps from an hour and a half to two hours.  I am not at all rigid about naps, but I obviously prefer that she takes one. She gets cranky otherwise, and she tends to sleep poorly at night on the days she’s missed her nap. Tuesday she literally fell asleep on my lap while I was having coffee with my friend. Wednesday she fell asleep on the way to the mall, and stayed asleep for a good 40 minutes even after I switched her to her stroller. Today she fell asleep on the way home from Bible study, and I was able to transfer her to her “boat” where she slept for another hour and a half. This all looks crazy to me as I read it, but I am grateful she is generally accommodating in this way. I don’t want to schedule my life around her naps. Instead I fly by the seat of my pants – dragging her along – and hope for the best. This week it’s worked out well, next week, who knows? Tomorrow will be interesting because we will be squeezing lunch and her nap in between music class and gymnastics. She doesn’t typically fall asleep (or do anything else) on command, but I’m hoping she comes damned close.

Technically she only has classes three days a week, which seems sufficient for a two-year-old. Bible study is really my class, but it’s good for her – and for me – because it gives her practice at being apart. In all of her other classes I am always with her, with the exception of about 25 minutes in Mommy & Me. She always cries when I leave, but then gets over it. Again, the practice is good for her. And two hours not in “Mommy Mode” is good for me. As I’ve said, Avery is happiest when she’s out and about, which seems like a good reason to keep her active. I just have to get used to it. I’m working on it.

My weeks aren’t always quite this full. Seeing two friends in a week was terrific, but atypical. Today I was so mentally focused on trying to get us both ready for Bible study that I forgot it was Braeden’s Picture Day at school. Whoops. My brain clearly hasn’t caught up to our busy schedule yet.

I hope all of this schedule talk wasn’t too dull. It’s been consuming me, lately. Also, Chris didn’t get home until after 9:00 PM. Overtime = great! Loss of sanity = not so great. My patience is clearly programmed to run out around 7, when Chris typically gets home, because when 7:00 PM hit I was instantly over it, across the board. She climbed up into Braeden’s loft bed and refused to come down. She pooped in her diaper twice today (we are in the midst of potty training, inspired by her interest, not pushed) in spite of the fact that she’d only done it twice in the previous two weeks. She refused to eat dinner and decided to condition her hair with pot pie instead. Ugh. By the time Chris walked in, my nerves – which I swear were holding up decently up until 7:00 PM – were entirely frayed.

I had other plans for this evening, but my mental energy has disappeared. Vanished. Gone. For the second night in a row, I will be in bed by 11 PM. I barely recognize myself.