Finding me

I think it started last month with the book.

It was a Saturday, and I had just laid my daughter down for her nap. My son was entertaining himself, and I had a little time on my hands. The house was relatively clean…straightened, really, although it could have used much more straightening. Perhaps I could fold another load of laundry…that requires minimal effort, but would provide a small sense of accomplishment. Or I could start a movie, maybe watch half for now, and the rest tomorrow.  I could even fold laundry while watching the movie.  Maybe I could fit in a 20-minute nap.

And all at once, all of these options just seemed so dreadfully boring and monotonous, and then I thought, there’s that book. And my mind went to the Julia Child biography in my nightstand. The one I had requested for Christmas after hearing an NPR interview with the author, the one I knew I would never have time to read, but had to have anyway.

A book? I thought. I don’t have time to be reading books. There’s too much work to be done. I have to start dinner in a few hours. I want to finish all of the laundry this weekend. Maybe I should do some math practice with my son.

But my mind kept telling me, read the book. You don’t have to read it all at once. Just a little here and a little there. That’s how you read a book…remember?

And with that I retrieved the book from my nightstand drawer and, reading a little here and a little there, entered Julia’s world, this dilettante, the C student with no sense of direction or purpose who never cooked a single thing until she was 34 years old.

This book – my first book in three years, which I am still reading, because this sucker is huge – has become my getaway, the one thing that is mine and only mine. I average but a few pages a day, but when I am in Julia’s world, my time is my own, and anyone who needs something from me will have to wait until I get to my stopping point.

And then last weekend my uncle was in town and I invited him over for dinner. As I tidied up the house I look at my poor, battered dining room table and thought, why not a tablecloth? And if you have ever at any point had a two-year-old, known a two-year-old, or been in the same room as a two-year old, you understand the implications here. But somehow, the tablecloth won, and out of the closet it came, and was soon followed by an impromptu centerpiece made of rosemary from the yard, and some nice place mats from the buffet drawer.

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The table

After a pleasant dinner I thought, why not leave the tablecloth on the table? So there it stayed, with centerpiece and place mats, all week. My children loved it, even the two-year-old, and a little extra care and caution is all it took to keep the tablecloth relatively clean.

In fact the table was still intact this weekend when I brought my mother to my house following her birthday dinner and treated her to a new special dessert I had made, chocolate espresso pots de creme, served on my nice plates that I haven’t used in five years. It was a special night.

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These really are small gestures, imperceptible to anyone other than me as I attempt to reconnect with myself and inch my way toward the practices which bring me joy: reading, learning, setting a nice table, and cooking special things for special people.

I feel like me again.

About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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13 Responses to Finding me

  1. Enjoyed this post – the power of reading! You need to read more often. Glad you found you – enjoy yourself.

    • Joyce says:

      I’ve been missing for a while! It’s hard to take the time to do these little things when there is always so much work to be done, but I know that if I don’t make time now, I never will, because all that other work is never completely finished.

  2. Bravo! I just cracked a book open for the first time about a year ago and got ravenous for them afterwards! I hope you continue to have time. And congrats on the lovely table in spite of the 2 year old.

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks! I had to whip that tablecloth off this past Sunday and launder it, but then it went right back on. It gives the room a nice effect…sort of like making your bed makes your room look twice as clean. Plus the table seems to stay clear of junk when it’s made up like that.

  3. I loved this post for so many reasons! First of all the table and dessert look great! Secondly, this is inspirational! I have so many pretty tablecloths but in the craziness of the day I never put one on except if we are celebrating a birthday or something. It’s silly not to dress it up everyday and save them just for the special occasions! Also….the book sounds terrific! I watched some of her first shows earlier this year and she is really a hoot! I’ve heard so stuff about her life story but would like to hear more now. My problem with books is that I can’t put them down. Last month I started reading Wonderful Tonight which is about the girl who was married to George Harrison and Eric Clapton. It’s a pretty big book so for about 4 days nothing got done around the house!!!

    • Joyce says:

      Get those tablecloths out, girl! It also helps to spray it with a coating or two Scotch Guard. I didn’t do that with mine but I was sure to dab little accidents with my Tide pen.

      Oh, I’ve heard of Wonderful Tonight – Pattie Boyd! She was beautiful and still is! What do you think of it? I would love to read that. Then again, sometimes it’s best to let your heroes go on being heroes, rather than to learn out they were just regular men, and not very nice ones sometimes.

      • It was a really interesting book! Though you are so right! I had heard some stuff about George so I wasn’t that surprised but this book really changed my views on Eric….holy cow!

      • Joyce says:

        Yeah, he was a bit of a slob, from what I hear!

        I highly recommend the Julia Child book. It’s called Dearie. What a character she was. I found her second pilot on Youtube, where she makes French onion soup with croutons on top. She put it under the broiler and burned the hell out of the croutons. Of course, she didnt’ say a word, just dug in past the croutons and fixed herself a big bowl of soup. She was great.

  4. Valerie says:

    What a lovely, relaxing post! I love that you have that getaway for yourself (aren’t you glad it’s a huge book?!) And your table is just beautiful – well done! I never know how to create a centerpiece. 😛

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks! It was very much spur-of-the-moment. My mother-in-law is very gifted at making centerpieces just out of things she has in her yard, and plus she has a lot of great containers. I’ve been trying to take notes.

  5. I really like this post, it is so important for us mothers to do things for ourselves before we totally lose who we are. I think I was lost for about 10 years until I decided enough was enough and found myself a part time job where I could be me again. I felt that time out from being mummy made me a better mummy.

    • Joyce says:

      Absolutely! Imagine if all we did was walk around picking up messes, cooking, washing dishes…I would be very boring and very miserable! Glad you learned to find yourself too 🙂

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