A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
The holiday gift-exchanges are fast approaching! Are you having trouble finding the perfect present for the stay-at-home-moms on your list? Look no further. Sure, we may seem to have it all together, what with our mostly delightful offspring and maternal warmth and occasionally clean hair, but there’s still plenty we need. Here’s a little shopping guide to help you along. I think you’ll be happily surprised by how inexpensive most of these items can be.
- Silence. However you can manage it. Remove the children from the domicile, take them out to pizza, build a soundproof booth in the basement, find noise-canceling ear plugs of the highest quality. We just want to hear ourselves think for an hour. You know, for kicks. To see if we can still do it. Cost to you: $0 – $10,000, depending on how you plan to approach this.
- A trip to the bathroom. No time limit. No questions asked. No kidding. All we want is to have a solitary, uninterrupted sesh in the loo. Maybe make it through one entire article in Us Weekly without any tiny fists pounding on the door. Possibly take a shower alone, in the morning, with the curtain closed, without Dora blaring on the iPad and a small lunatic peeking around every thirty seconds to make sure we haven’t disappeared into thin air. Frankly, we’d simply like to go #2 without our little sidekicks by our sides (or on our laps). We don’t want to narrate what we’re doing on the potty. We want to wash our hands and faces at a leisurely pace without having to worry about a toddler shredding a roll of toilet paper or hurling herself head-first into an empty bathtub as we apply a luxurious layer of that expensive night cream we bought years ago when we still cared what happened to our faces. Let us reclaim our thrones for just one day. Cost to you: $0 and twenty minutes of sanity.
- Not a massage. Yes, massages are great and relaxing and special. But ever since I had my baby, everyone has wanted to give me massages as gifts and receiving one makes me think two things. The first is: “I need to save this for when I really need it, like when I am teetering on the edge of sanity or just before the next apocalypse.” And the second is: “Crap, I hope I can find the time and requisite childcare to book this before it expires.” I become a compulsive, paranoid hoarder of spa gift certificates, convinced no challenge or stressful situation is so insurmountable that it merits “wasting” my free massage. Simultaneously, I am filled with guilt every time I see you because I’ve not yet made good use of your generous gift. It’s not your fault, and I’m sure I’ve inflicted this very same state of emotional confusion on many friends. If you want to go the beauty route, consider instead getting someone a month’s worth of cheap manicures. They’re not so rarified that we’ll be tempted to squirrel them away to delay gratification, and they only require about thirty minutes’ worth of babysitting. Cost to you: $40-$50 (a savings of roughly $100!).
- A hot cup of coffee. Not a hot travel mug of coffee that we’re forced to drink in our own living rooms over the course of three hours. Not a hot yet tiny cup of coffee that we gulp down in twelve seconds before toddlers begin swinging wildly, threatening to scald themselves in a split second we’ll all regret for a lifetime. Not a hot mug of coffee that grows colder and colder on the countertop and from which we take one sad, pitiful sip every twenty minutes. No. I’m talking about a nice, hot, sizable mug of joe which we are permitted to drink at an average human speed, preferably seated, perhaps even with a piece of toast or a newspaper or a crossword puzzle, or all three. Cost to you: $1 – $6, depending on how many of the aforementioned add-ons you choose to include.
- The freedom to take Nyquil the next time we’re sick. This one is for co-habitants only. The last time I had a nasty cold and chose to take Nyquil, our toddler then chose to wake up screaming every two hours beginning roughly twenty minutes after I’d dosed myself. I had to fight through the sedative to tend to her needs and found myself mildly hallucinating as I rocked and sang to her about dragons or pie or something. Cost to you: Possibly $0, possibly a night or two of sleep. Roll the dice, guys.
- A solo shopping trip. We promise not to buy the store. We just need a couple of hours of trying on clothing in a fitting room that doesn’t need to accommodate a stroller. All we ask is the chance to peruse the shelves and racks carefully and thoughtfully, and then wait in line to purchase the items we’ve so deliberately selected, all while temporarily unfettered by the apple-cheeked, ticking time bomb who normally accompanies us on errands. It’s not that we can’t handle them, but it would be so nice to look for a new sweater without having to dismantle a sock display to sacrifice as a toddler offering. Cost to you: $0 and up, depending on your relationship to the mom in question and where she likes to shop.
- A really expensive dinner out. At a four-star restaurant with lots of fancy courses and amuse-bouches and cocktails before and after wine (without the fear of having to be the one to wake up at 6 AM). Cost to you: At least $200. Sometimes you just having to cough it up. We’re moms, not monks.
- A judgment-free night of drinking alone. Take the kids, leave the wine/vodka/scotch. Is this one just me? It can’t just be me. Okay, fiiiiine. Moving on.
- A complete, uninterrupted adult conversation that does not revolve around our children, someone else’s children, child-bearing, or child-rearing in any way. It’s not always easy to break out of this mindset, so give us some time to warm up, help us along at the beginning, and then let us fly freely. Cost to you: A half hour or so, once a week ought to do it.
- A complete, uninterrupted conversation that revolves entirely around our wonderful children, their accomplishments, and our concerns regarding their futures. I mean, we do love the little suckers, after all. Cost to you: a really boring hour of your life during which you must refrain from eye rolling or saying “mm-hmm” too unconvincingly.
Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!