I Am Protective

Yesterday was a beautiful, crisp fall Saturday, and I’m proud to say my family did absolutely nothing.
I got up early and went to the gym to work out. The rest of the family was sleeping when I left. I picked up some sandwiches on the way home and announced the arrival of food as I passed my two sons binge-watching the endless barrage of scary movies that come on in the weeks before Halloween. I made my way to my bedroom where my husband was lounging on the bed fighting a losing battle to stay awake. I popped off my shoes and joined him.

The windows were open. A cool breeze and endless sunshine flooded the room. A college football game neither of us really cared about was on, volume muted. Every once in a while, one of us would venture out on the deck and crawl into the hammock to watch the leaves drift down out of the trees. My husband disappeared upstairs for a while to play a little Rocksmith on my son’s X-Box. Once or twice I walked out in the front yard to hang a few more plastic bats in the trees as part of my ongoing Halloween decorating efforts. And occasionally I’d hear someone in the kitchen and assume one of the kids was getting something to eat.

This went on for many, blissful hours.

In the week before our do-nothing Saturday, between the two kids there had been one homecoming dance, six show choir practices, four cross-country practices, a dentist appointment, an elementary school fun run, a trip to the zoo, participation in the Special Olympics, a cross-country meet and PSAT testing. This was in addition, of course, to a full week of school for each, and special needs after-school activities for my younger son. My husband had worked until 9 p.m. several nights to prepare for a presentation. I had attended several meetings, finished up some work projects, gone to the Special Olympics, taken care of the children and house, taught four spin classes and run 20 miles.

A day full of nothing was definitely needed, and I never felt an ounce of guilt or regret for letting my family remain horizontal for the vast majority of the day. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop doing and going. When you think about it, we rarely do. In fact, I can’t really remember the last time I spent six solid hours doing as little as possible. Even when you go on vacation to relax and unwind, by definition you are doing something. You’ve gone somewhere. You’ve packed up, driven or flown, and are engaged in an activity. Yesterday, we didn’t go anywhere. We didn’t do anything.

And there were many things that could have been done. In any home at any given moment, there is something that can be cleaned or fixed. There are clothes to be washed, dishes to be put away, paint to be touched up, leaves to be raked, trash to be taken out, Summer clothes to be stored, sweaters to be brought out. Floors can always be vacuumed and surfaces can always be dusted. And that’s just the beginning.

We’re about to remodel our kitchen, and I could have gone to look at sinks and tile samples. Trader Joe’s just opened in town. I have a generous Lululemon gift card I received for my birthday I could have had a great time spending. And as most mothers know, I could have gone to the grocery store. You always need to go to the grocery store, even after you’ve just gone to the grocery store.

It was a beautiful fall day. We could have loaded the kids up and gone hiking. We could have found some art or pumpkin festival somewhere nearby. We could have walked up to the community garden. We could have gone anywhere and done anything.

But we didn’t do any of those things. We did nothing. And we loved it.

During one of the brief periods when I was awake, I checked out Facebook and saw all the things other people were doing. One friend was with one of her children at a soccer tournament in Pensacola while her husband was in Tennessee with another child at another soccer tournament. That morning at the YMCA, I had asked a friend who has five kids how many various types of ballgames he had Saturday. He said either five or six, he couldn’t remember. Another friend’s family had driven 12 hours to go to a college football game in Texas. Other friends had run in the Race for the Cure. One had a 16th birthday party for her daughter.

All those things sounded fine and good. But as I relaxed on my bed, light flowing in the windows that needed to be washed, husband snoring lightly next to me, and boys dozing in the room next to us, I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than in my perfectly imperfect home with the three people I love more than life itself, doing absolutely nothing.



Amy Wright is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama. She’s a graduate of the University of the South at Sewanee, and has more than 20 years of marketing, advertising, and editorial writing experience. If you bank, use a cell phone, go to a hospital, attend a university, drink coffee, or eat snack cakes in the Southeastern United States, you’ve probably read something she’s written. But her greatest experience, by far, has been the intensely rewarding and truly humbling seventeen years of raising her special needs children with her beloved husband.

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