Gimme a Break

I’d been out of the house, on the road with my best friend, for forty minutes. My cooking/dusting/laundering hand had finally relaxed, my explaining/moderating/guiding gear had slipped into neutral. I had just started to absorb it, the quiet, free from little voices, big demands.

Fergie’s My Humps thumped through the car’s speakers, and I didn’t have to change the station for the sake of kid ears. In fact, I was just reaching to turn it up, ready to shake my, um, rump as much as the passenger seat allowed, when my cell rang.

I hesitated, touching neither the radio’s knob, nor the phone. Caller ID said it was my husband, who’d stayed home with our two daughters.

“Do I answer it?” I looked to my best friend for wisdom.

“Are you willing to throw away all we have before us?”

“I am in ridiculous need of this day. Shopping. A meal out. I’ll let it go to voicemail.”


“I know he's calling about food. I sat mac and cheese on the counter, in plain sight," I reasoned. "How could he miss the blue box? It says Kraft.”

“They won’t starve,” she said. “He can boil water. Right?”

“I knew I should have made lunch before I left.”

I imagined my girls, my babies, hungry and weak at the kitchen table. My lips puckered, a reflex, into Mommy's Lovey Kissy Face. The long stretch mark, the one wrapping my hip, twitched.

“Be strong,” my best friend whispered.


I swallowed. “Hello?”

“Come back. We can’t live without you.”

“I can’t live with you if I don’t get some time away.”

“You don’t know what it’s like here.”

“It’s just for the day. Pull on your Daddy Pants, big fella. You can do it.”

My best friend hunkered over the steering wheel, face pinched in urgency. “Hang up! Now!”

“Love you, honey," I cooed. "Have fun!”


It was a glorious snatch of time. I ate something I can never have at home, because I'm the only one who likes it, tried on clothes, and shoes, with no one to corral into a fitting room, or lose beneath the circular racks. I looked at books for thirty quiet, blissful minutes. Bought a jumbo pack of maxi pads and answered to no one.


When I got home late that evening, I was floating and soft, disconnected after my time away. I walked through the kitchen, paying only half-mind to a cookie sheet on the stove. Covered with dozens of… hard and curly… shoelaces? I shrugged, didn't care.

I shuffled past the starving dog, navigated the floor of Barbies. Found my three loves had fallen asleep in my bed, in their day clothes. Knew with that maternal intuition that not a toothbrush had been touched, not a face had been washed.

I unearthed the remote, which had become wedged between my husband's armpit and my daughter's forehead (that had to be comfortable), and killed the muted rerun of Futurama.

My heart filled full at the sight of my family, and I was glad to be home. I climbed onto the available edge of mattress, curled into a compact ball as my fingers grasped the last square-foot of quilt, barely enough to cover my cold toes. And I fell into a deep, contented sleep.


The next morning, over breakfast, my husband blushed.

"So... I thought they were shoestring potatoes. You know, fries."


"Yeah, but they were all hard and gross after I baked 'em."

"Yeah." I smiled at my daughters.

"Turns out, they were egg noodles."


  1. Funny and well written post. The roman noodles part must have been a side splitter.

    "I ate something I can never have at home, because I'm the only one who likes it..."

    That would be Mexican food for me--as no one in the family will allow me within 500 yards of it normally.

  2. LOL I loved this piece. ANd how I could relate. Used to run away with a good friend a few times a year to shop for the day and LOVED it! They always survive!

  3. LOVED this, Janna. The best part about leaving and relaxing is always coming back home. Husbands are endearing in their inadequacies at times. :) Great post.

  4. Great. Very moving. We all need our time away in order to stay sane.

  5. HA! I love it. This was great Janna. So funny.


  6. Great post, Janna! A friend and I used to run away overnight once a year. We never left town, but we did leave the house, and that was the important thing.

  7. Cute! They did survive without you....barely. :O)

  8. Don't we all need that Girls' Day Out to recharge. It's amazing how important it really is. Fun post!

  9. Funny! At least he told you. My husband would be all "Oh yeah, everything went GREAT."

  10. Oh, this SOOOOO resonated with me as my hubby, with his PhD and framed certifications, apparently cannot cook AN EGG!!! Every time I leave, it's this same thing. Finally they caught on and just go out to eat when Mom is playing.


  11. Great post!! So glad you had a 'girl's day out!'. :D

  12. I LOVE this!! I too am in need of one of those Girls Days!!

  13. ahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaaa!!! I love you for making me laugh on a rough day. Thanks!

    It DOES remind me of Erma!

  14. Love Erma! Have all her books!

    Love this new blog to pieces! Haven't had such a good life and stroll down Mommy Memory Lane!!

    Can't wait to see what's next!

  15. Oops...that was suppose to be "good laugh"!!

  16. Hilarious. And you did a wonderful job of telling it.

  17. lol...Jana, too funny and sweet! Good for you to take time for yourself. (Even if there was a lot to clean up) :P

  18. Oh Janna! Hahaha! I love it. Glad you got away for some time to yourself.

  19. 'Can't live without you' - I love the drama!

  20. So cute!

    You carried me along with you and took me out of my own day for a moment. Thank you!

  21. Oh, what a day. I remember these. With my ex, he called it "babysitting for me" (Notice he is the ex). I chose better the second time. He ordered pizza and played video games with the boys. They never even noticed I was gone. Except for that one time they rigged a bucket of ice cubes and water over the front door as my homecoming gift. Yes. I fell for it.

  22. Yay for girl power! I laughed several times. Well done.

  23. Just testing... have had a few readers say they were unable to leave comments...

    Thanks, everyone! I'm so glad you liked it!

  24. Shoelaces on the cookie sheet! That was my favorite part.

    Very funny and well-done! (like the so-called fries.)

  25. *spews tea...laughs and laughs*
    Egg Noodles????
    *pounds table to enable breathing*


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