This post originally appeared at Hopeful Parents on November 11, 2010.
It occurred to me a few days ago that the eleventh was rapidly approaching and with it, my posting date for Hopeful Parents. Could it really be the eleventh again?, I thought. So soon?
But, of course, it was. Is. The 11th. 11-11, actually. Elevenses.
I Googled "elevenses," because I knew I'd heard the word somewhere before, and I landed on this Wikipedia entry (and for any of my writing students who happen to be reading: No, Wikipedia is STILL not a credible source), which informs me that in the UK and Ireland, "elevenses" is a light snack - a warm beverage and a tasty cake - eaten in late morning. It's a little treat - something you do for yourself, just to get yourself through the day.
I imagine that if you're the parent of a child with special needs, you get the same question I get from well-meaning doctors and therapists: "What are you doing for yourself?" It's an important question, but by the tone and frequency with which it's asked, I get the sense that when these doctors and therapists ask it of most special needs parents, they are met with blank stares and lengthy silences.
Not so with me, though. I merely thank them for their concern and assure them that I am, indeed, taking time for myself. I am enjoying my elevenses.
And I am. Sometimes they take the form of things that I do - enjoying a night out with friends, reading a novel that's just for fun, shopping for a new pair of chunky-heeled boots. And other times, they take the form of things that I don't do, because I just cant manage one more thing, even if, under different circumstances, that thing is something I might like to do - seeing my students perform in the college play, volunteering for the school Book Fair, responding promptly to an e-mail from an old friend.
Or writing a blog post simply because it's time.
The key here - the elevenses part - is not simply in the not doing. It's in not feeling bad about not doing. That part is more difficult, but it's critical. In order to make it happen, I have to assume that everyone else will be willing to cut me a break - and, as it turns out, when I test my assumptions, I find out that in most cases, the break has been cut. That knowledge - or, perhaps, that ongoing assumption - makes it easier for me to cut myself a break as well.
They are not huge, my elevenses. Taken alone, they will not shake the ground enough to register on even the most sensitive seismograph. They are not cruises to the Caribbean. They're not even days spent at the spa. They are little moments of doing and little moments of not doing. But taken together, they get me through.
And, of course, all this is my explanation for why I am not writing a Hopeful Parents blog post today, 11-11, the high holy day of elevenses.
And yet, it seems that in my explaining, I have written a blog post.
But I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm just going to look at this as one of those "do" elevenses, and not one of the "don't do" ones.
Whatever the case, I'm going to go celebrate with a warm beverage and a tasty cake.
Perhaps you'd like to do the same.