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The challenges of Sundays and Mondays and every other day of the week

Let's just start this story at the grossest part, which is to say lice. On Monday of last week I found a single head louse on myself. It was 4:45 in the morning. I had woken up early to work out, and had snuck into the kitchen for some coffee, when I felt a small shivery thing scurrying along the back of my neck. I would have felt so relieved had I pulled a tick from behind me, but no, what I found pinched between my fingers was a single, unmistakable, louse. Before the rest of my family had roused themselves out of bed I had doused my entire head in rubbing alcohol. When Dan came downstairs I had already pulled the covers off the sofas, and the washing machine was running full tilt. Nothing like a good morning, "LET ME LOOK AT YOUR HAIR RIGHT NOW" to get everyone's adrenaline pumping first thing.

I never did find another louse on me or anyone else. But it set my internal tone for the rest of the week. Which was something like CONSTANT VIGILENCE! Or BUGS will EAT you! You think this f-ing place is clean? YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY BE WORKING HARD ENOUGH!

The rest of my week was consumed with packing for a 30-hour retreat. If you don't understand how every hour on an island might require two hours of planning, then you don't have small children. Perhaps you are in the sort of life stage where you can simply throw a change of clothes into a backpack and lightly skip onto a ferry. Tra la! Perhaps you thrive on industrial-style dining (breaded chicken doesn't have gluten, right?) If this is the case, stop reading this blog right now and go have sex on top of your kitchen table. You have no idea, but your DAYS of carefree living are NUMBERED. Tick. Mother f-ing tock.

Meanwhile, I will share with the actual mothers in the crowd that I got so ill from all my food / outerwear / first aid packing stress, that I woke up retreat day with a mild fever. My protein bars might have been better replaced with elderberry syrup, but I am not a walking apothecary, not with the extra pair of rain boots I had to carry for each child on the train. So the outing was dominated by me shivering on the beach with a toddler strapped to my chest because he'd developed a sudden fear of water.

I said to Dan, "When this is all over, I want to take an actual retreat."
"Like going running?"
"Like you watch the kids while I go to Whole Foods."

If I may speak frankly, church-time spirituality isn't great for me these days. When I walk into church Elijah screams for nursing. Or he screams for home. Or he screams because he's tired or because he's bored or because he senses that I don't want him to scream at that moment. As I walk him out towards the parking lot other adults smile and say, "How's it going?" and I want to say, "How does it LOOK like it's going?" but I don't want to kill someone else's buzz if they're in the kind of life stage where they can go to a worship service one day and another day have sex on a kitchen table. They should enjoy their weekend.

No, if I want to be around people who understands my needs at a very deep level, I just go to Whole Foods. The girl in the vitamin aisle knows SO MUCH about oil of oregano. One thousand times stronger than garlic!!! Or I wander the aisle of nuts and dried fruit and imagine the world is a magical place filled with delights specifically designed to amuse me. "Have anything you like!" I say to myself, as if the message comes directly from God himself, as if I believe in a loving creator who cares about my desires and not just about my dedicated perseverance. Or I pace around the hot food bar. Look at all the lovely food that I DIDN'T HAVE TO COOK! Every ingredient clearly listed. It makes me warm inside, not just the proximity to a low-level heat source, but the marriage of OPTIONS and KNOWLEDGE. In Whole Foods anything is possible, even transcendence.

When we drive to church we pass a Whole Foods and sometimes I look out the window longingly.

Okay, so I don't want to be this woman, this mother who can't have any fun. This killjoy shrew who looks down on 20-somethings, whose chief role in retreat is attentive shlepper of bandaids and snacks. When did I become, above all else, a woman who ENJOYS food shopping??? Somewhere my life seems to have taken a wrong turn. I'd like to get back to where it was a bit freer and easier. But the journey seems perhaps long. I can't imagine how I'd pack enough snacks...

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