Lemon Squares

I made lemon squares yesterday. This is not unusual, but the fact that I made lemon squares by myself, alone, with no one – no kids craning over the bowl, howling to crack the eggs or zest the lemon or pour in the sugar – is a rarity indeed. Brad and the boys are gone for the next six days to Minnesota, to visit Haukebo and Papa (Brad’s parents), so I have six whole days yawning ahead of me – should I feel guilty that I am GIDDY with delight and anticipation?!

Brad and I actually have a pretty equitable arrangement for free time; we call it Square Up. We enacted this policy last year, after several years of arguing over who had more “free time.” When Noah was an infant I distinctly recall lying in bed at 2 a.m., tallying up how many hours of sleep Brad was getting compared to me. Of course, I was so sleep-deprived from breast-feeding every two hours that I struggled to do the math, so every few minutes I would have to start over, counting up Brad’s slumbering hours as he snored beside me and comparing them to my own paltry amount. Yes, for the record, I squandered my own sleep in order to reflect bitterly on how much sleep my husband was enjoying.

Even after we had moved beyond the sleep-deprivation days, Brad and I found that we struggled over the issue of free time. Thus, Square Up was born. It’s basically tit for tat – one hour for him, one hour for me and vice versa. For every hour he spends golfing (golfing is how Brad spends every nanosecond of his free time), I get an hour to do whatever I want: shopping, dining with friends, sitting still at Holmes Lake, writing, slurping iced coffee at The Mill, painting my toenails. Whatever. But herein lies the problem – while Brad has a laser-focus approach to his free-time management, I’m all over the map. And thus, I always end up feeling rushed or resentful, like I’m somehow getting less time than he is. The math clearly indicates that’s not the case, but because I spread myself too thin in my pursuit of pleasure, I end up drained rather than refreshed.

That’s why making lemon squares by myself was such an invigorating, uplifting experience. I actually smelled the lemon. The citrusy scent made my mouth water as I beat the mix, and I reveled in measuring out each ingredient properly and beating thoroughly, rather than trying to “get through” the process so I could tackle something else. I even found myself talking out loud. Apparently the silence was too much, and I felt compelled to fill it with my own voice – not surprising, given my ears are usually ringing with Rowan’s voice, which is spoken at the decibel of a Boeing 747. Brad and I jokingly call Rowan "Owen Meany," after the John Irving character (A Prayer for Owen Meany) who speaks LIKE THIS, IN ALL CAPS, THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE BOOK! Living with Rowan is like living with someone who speaks in all caps.

Anyway, this brings me back to my earlier “Be Still” post, and reminds me that too often I forget to smell the lemons, so to speak. Perhaps this is a reminder that I shouldn't multi-task even my free time. That the goal shouldn’t be to “get it all in,” to cram in as many pleasures as possible, but to appreciate more deeply and fully one or two experiences. I may have to ask God for help on this one! What do you think…is this a female thing? Are we driven to multi-task even in our pursuit of pleasure?

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