Some weeks, I run four times. Other weeks, it's two. Last week, I only ran once.
The lovely Post-It Note schedule stuck to the mirror next to my desk that I relied on to keep my day's organized has long been abandoned.
I excitedly plan meals and order groceries and fire up the grill, only to lose all motivation and go out to eat or make a dinner for myself out of cereal and string cheese.
I spend a few glorious days maintaining normal work hours and then find myself up until 2 a.m., tapping away at my keyboard, for too many nights in a row.
Is it because it is summer and we don't have the same structure of school hours? Is that both Lil E and have already racked up some frequent flier miles in the last two months? Or is it just that we are in one of those cycles when staying on one track feels impossible?
I'm not sure. And I am trying not to give myself too hard a time about it as I slowly re-incorporate our dinners on the porch, bedtimes for both of us, a sane amount of time spent online.
I do know that there's one part of my life that calls on me to be consistent louder than any other responsibility. Of course, that's parenting the boy. This is the part of my life I am good at holding steady as I seemingly let everything else drop or at least teeter back and forth.
I thought that as I packed his suitcase more than a week ago, doing all of the little things I always do to prep for his time away with his dad. I placed nine outfits into one side of his suitcase, a swimsuit and jammies and flip-flops and a jacket into the other. On top, I tucked a picture calendar detailing where each of us would be on the days while we were apart. Over that, I slid a note telling him how much I love him, how excited I am that he has this time with his dad and how I couldn't wait to hear the stories of all his adventures when he came home.
In his backpack, I piled Ziploc bags full of Legos, Star Wars guys, activity books and crayons, and a set of dollhouse dolls I bought at a garage sale that he loves to quietly play house with by himself. I put Dramamine, his very necessary "belly medicine" for long car trips and flights, where he'd expect it to be.
None of this is extraordinary. None of it qualifies me for mother of the year. I know many wonderful single parents (and cannot forget those partnered parents) who practice these little rituals every time their children leave home with someone else. What I do, I've done since my very first business trip when Lil E was 18 months old and our family looked very different than it does today. I love it that he knows he will see my drawings when he unzips his suitcase 3,000 miles away, and it soothes my soul to know he has everything I could possibly anticipate he needs in those two bags.
So the question here and now for me really is, how can I be that consistent when taking care of my home? Sleep? Work? Our eating? My body? Myself?
How can I take the ways that I tend to him and apply them -- more regularly and with the same determination -- to these other areas calling to me?
Please do offer up your wisdom. And while I wait to hear it, I will be out for a run. Or not phoning the sushi place to make my usual order. Or not turning off my cell phone "GO TO BED, JESSICA!" alarm. Or maybe just making myself a new schedule, maybe this time trashing the Post-Its and drawing pictures on a calendar instead.