Galit Breen essays

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4:00 Three and a half hours until bedtime.
How about play doh? A fort? Books? Puzzles? Paint? What do you want to do?

Can we watch a movie, Mama?

My eyes are bleary, my other half is working late, and 2 hours of a movie and popcorn and snuggles and quiet sounds like nothing.

Perfect, blissful nothing.

4:15 Three hours and fifteen minutes until bedtime.

Movie in, popcorn popped, cozies donned.

4:30 Three hours until bedtime.

Hey! My friend Kate texts. Do you want to take the kids ice skating?

Sitting! Relaxing! Nothing!

But, ice skating.

Magical, gliding, smooth, we’ve-never-been-before Ice Skating!

4:45 Two hours and forty five minutes until bedtime.

We gather our snow pants and snow boots and ice skates and helmets and hats and gloves and mittens and scarves and chairs and a sled for Brody to sit in, of course.

5:00 Two and a half hours until bedtime.

I stand still. Take it in. The flooded out field goes on for miles. A shiny, sparkling canvas for sharp, new skates and excited, ambitious skaters.

The moment passes and I’m jolted back to the reason we’re here. Let’s go! Our kids squeal. Their achingly independent feet run down the path, slide across the ice and start to untangle the mysteries of their ice skates.

Push your feet in. Yes, like that. Kate explains. Lace tight, even tighter. Stand tall, even taller.

Our bundled children are lined up in a neat, huddled row. Each one waiting for their turn to learn how to master the ice. And one by one, Kate teaches them.

Whispered survival secrets passed down from one native Midwesterner to another.

And then, they go. They waver and fall and bruise and try again. But most of all, they go.

They glint of winter.

Rosy cheeks.

Red noses.

Sore tushys.

Heart-breakingly big smiles.

6:45 Forty five minutes until bedtime.

We trudge back to the car. This time our voices are quieter and our steps are heavier.

7:00 A half hour until bedtime.

The snow pants and snow boots and ice skates and helmets and hats and gloves and mittens and scarves and chairs and even the sled invade our mudroom in one shockingly sloshy pile that absolutely screams FUN.

7:15 Fifteen minutes until bedtime.

Bath bubbles. Warmth. Laughter. Yawns they’d rather I not see.


Mama, can we watch that movie now?

7:45 Fifteen minutes past bedtime.

Movie in, popcorn-for-dinner popped, cozies donned.

Sometime far, far beyond bedtime.

I sit snuggled between so many pieces of my heart; bare to the world but bungee corded to me.

My pieces are lost in their movie. Another world, another time, a slice of someone else’s magic.

They fight their heavy eyelids. Breathing in sweet, deep sighs that only children give into.

Yes, there could have been writing and Facebook-ing and tweeting and – my heart be still – perhaps even reading a real book tonight.

But instead, there’s snuggles and magic and breathing and that big sloshy pile that can wait until tomorrow. So this time? Our detour served us well.

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Galit Breen

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