Some mornings you wake up with a pounding headache that you know will cling to you for the whole day. You know you have it because you were up late writing an article, but you had no choice; it was due that day and you had to finish it because you have two more deadlines to meet next week and an event to organize on the weekend. As you stagger around the house pretending to be alive – showering, dressing, fixing breakfast – the throbbing in your head becomes so intense that you feel you might throw up or pass out at any minute. Then you hear the words, “Mommy, can you come and help me with this?” A simple request maybe, but all you can think is, “I just can’t. I can’t.” You’re 48 years old, you’re slow, cranky, and being eaten alive by a migraine. You can barely look after yourself, but you have a 9-year old child. Some days, it feels impossible to be a parent.
Well, that was my morning, and the day could have become really ugly if not for our friends Patty and John who live three houses from us and have an 8-year old boy, Harry, who is a good buddy of Theo’s. Patty and John are both hard-working creative professionals in the entertainment industry and, like David and me are older parents of an only child, so like us, are happy to have a companion so close by for their son. Today, the final day of a 3-week long Winter Break, we had lunch with them and they offered to take Theo for the afternoon. This may not sound out of the ordinary, but in my wretched state at the end of a 3-week school break, struggling to do my work and get him to do his homework, I felt a huge burden lifting and knots in my shoulders untangling. Theo would be happily playing with a friend – he wouldn’t need me for a few hours. I could take a break. I could even have a massage – my first in months. I almost skipped out of the house. Sometimes a gift of a couple of hours of rest is the greatest gift of all. As a thank you, I gave Patty and John my copy of 1,001 Old-Time Garden Tips, a book that I have meant to read for ages, but unlikely ever will. They have a large back yard that they have been working on for a few years and are planning on spending more time on it. The book was one I thought they might enjoy sometime when we can return the favor and help them squeeze a bit of free time out of their hectic lives too.