Mama On the Loose

Posted: October 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Birthdays, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Moods, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting, Travel | No Comments »

Kate made herself a first-aid kit this week. And ever since she’s been lying in wait, hoping desperately for someone, anyone, to get hurt.

She came up with this idea when I was on the phone. Because there’s no better time to talk to me than when I want to talk to someone else.

“Can I have a plastic bag?” she bellowed into my face at close range. “I’m making a first-aid kit.”

And over my voice saying, “No, Kate. Not now,” my friend Megsy says through the phone line, “I just love it! That girl is too much.” So I instantly soften, feeling guilty about my sometimes knee-jerk ‘no’ response, and hand Kate a plastic sandwich-sized Ziplock. The environment be damned.

I’ve been grinding into a new routine, having just taken on some freelance work with the agency I was at this spring. I shouldn’t balk. With most of the summer off and all September free to help the girls adjust to school, the timing is actually perfect. I’ve considered the thought that more kid-free time at home might eventually result in—gasp!—my feeling bored. And the hope is that I can contain the part-time gig to the kids’ school schedules.

That’s at least the hope.

But the week started with a two-day trip to Seattle for a meeting. Travel the same week that I’m off to New Yawk solo to play with Mike and Lorin. Suddenly so much alone time—or at least time away from the kids—seems an embarrassment of riches.

So much so that an hour-plus trip to Target on Sunday left me suddenly floored by an intense Mama pang of missing the girls. Seeing a mom push her drooling baby through the store side-swiped me with an intense blow of sadness.

Why would I ever choose to be away from my kids? Why wasn’t I with them this very minute? I suddenly craved them madly, and considered abandoning my teeming shopping cart to run to the parking lot and speed home.

All this just the day before boarding a plane for an overnight work trip. I was starting to think I’d have to be forced down the jet-way at gunpoint, weeping and projectile lactating.

But then, I survived. The girls were fine with staying at school all day on Monday, and a call home to them that evening found them happily cooking dinner together.

“We’re fine!” Mark sang out. “The girls are great! They both had good days at school. How you doin’, honey?”

And just like that, with a snap of the finger, my Mama guilt and worry evaporated. I was lightened. Able to, after hanging up, sink into the happy solitude of a not-fabulous-but-fine hotel. Stiff clean sheets, climate-controlled AC, and back-to-back episodes of Law & Order.

And now, days later, I’m alone again. En route to New York to celebrate one of my BFF’s birthdays alone, like a big girl. My treat for the solo parenting I did this summer while Mark took work trips to France and other kid-free, grown-up, fancy-dinners-out-on-the-company kinda places. Places where no one asked him to wipe their bottom after they pooped. (At least as far as I know.)

A few days ago I felt like the New York trip was too much, too soon. Was I sufficiently starved for alone time to substantiate it? I felt like I’d been given a gift card to some fancy store I lust after, but suddenly couldn’t find a single thing I wanted to buy. My timing was tragically off.

And last night, telling a doze-y Paige I’d be away for a couple days, that she and Kate and Dad were flying East to meet me then we’d go to Grandpa’s, she came to a bit and reached out for me. “But I love you, Mama! I love you!” This being her recent response to anything worthy of drama.

Crawling into her bed, I scooped her up in a spoon snuggle and whispered into her neck how very very much I loved her too. And I wondered if I really had the selfish courage to get on that plane in the morning.

But, I did. And here I am in Seat 19D, using the blank space on the ad pages of a People magazine to write. (Some day I’ll find a laptop small enough to carry around.) And I’m totally okay.

In the airport this morning I sipped a perfect chai latte and smiled at all the babies I saw. I am alone. I am content. I love everyone.

And I know Mark and the girls will be perfectly fine without me. If anyone can pack a lunch and remember school forms and calm demonic tantrums, it’s that exceptional husband of mine.

And if things really go well, maybe—for Kate’s sake at least—someone will get hurt.

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