From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Pavement Paradise

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Albert Einstein

Flit, flit, flit.

My thoughts run randomly across my consciousness until they cascade into a freefall. My body relaxes as the cool breeze from the car air-conditioning brushes against my face. Both kids are taking a nap in the back seat.

My mother runs inside the grocery store, and I lay my head back for the most rejuvenating part of my vacation. This trip is about refocusing, relaxing, refueling. In a car two thousand miles from home, there are no dishes, no conversations and no commitments. I am taking sanctuary where I find it.

Oddly enough, where I’m finding it is in a parking lot, surrounded by pavement and the perpetual movement of strangers coming and going.

You see, I have a problem, and I believe it is not exclusive to me. My life is insane, and there are days I like it that way. In fact, I actually search out projects to fill my life. I can’t say no, and I rarely pass up opportunities—the curse of so many modern women.

But with a three-year-old and a new baby, I am feeling lost, overwhelmed, drained. Because it is tax time—my accountant husband’s busiest time of year—I packed my bags and made my annual trek. Home. To my parents. I vowed to find myself again.

And finally encased in a car with no worldly pressures, I find the asylum I so desperately need. Left with nothing more than my own quiet thoughts, I realize my depression is a mild case of baby blues and will pass, and that sometimes a pavement oasis is as good as a hammock on a tropical island.

An hour later, my mother emerges from the store. When I tell her about my parking-lot paradise, she smiles slyly and replies, “Isn’t it wonderful?”

It’s then I realize she let me sit there so long on purpose. After all, she recognizes my need to escape. She knows what it means to serve as mother, wife, bookkeeper, friend, manager, dreamer, sister . . . all the roles of fulfilled womanhood.

Even more, she understands the need to replenish to meet those demands.

Rachelle Hughes

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