In a few weeks, I am going away. Alone. I mean, not like completely alone hiking the PCT and losing a boot alone…I’m going away with some other people. But I’m not going with anyone else in my family. To be clear, of the five of us that live here…20% is going away for a week and it’s me.
ME ME ME ME ME
I’m not excited or anything. Okay, I am. It’s not often about me on the family calendar.
Now don’t feel bad for me. I am an integral cog in making this machine go. People don’t have rides at ridiculously inconvenient times in inclement weather or custom cut waffles or their favorite clean pants without me. I’m an essential employee. If this family were a company, I would be the COO and the janitorial staff. Which is to say, I feel plenty needed. Always.
But it wasn’t long ago that I had to check with a minimum of 4 people and cross-reference 2 calendars and wait for the stars to align before I had the luxury of scheduling my own dental cleaning. My teeth, the second and final set that God has granted me, have somehow become less important than things like book fairs and soccer practices and class parties and orthodontia for kid teeth. But this year I’m going on a trip alone and it’s going to be tricky to get everyone where they need to be but it is going to work and my husband is not only 100% up for the added chaos but in full support of me going to have a mini-adventure.
When I told my kids that I was going on this trip, one of my children (who I will not name to protect their innocence) said to me after a sharp inhale,
“But WHAT are we going to do?”
How does one even respond to that? What are the appropriate non-damaging, non-angry, non- irritated, not using expletives, no eye rolling responses to that question? My blood came to a slow boil.
What are you going to do? What are you going to do??? Do? Well how in the hell do I know?
I’LL BE GONE! (That is not how I responded)
The subtext to that child’s question is layered…It means, “Does Dad even really know what is going on?” “Am I going to have to locate my own swim goggles when you aren’t here?” “Will there even be food available to us during this time period?” “Who am I going to complain to when I am hit with a Nerf bullet again?” and “Why? Why mom why would you ever want to leave this paradise?”
I can think of a few reasons…
So what are they going to do? I don’t know and I couldn’t be less concerned. Really. I would walk through fire for this family. I love them with a deep sacrificial love. But I’m going off the grid and it just won’t be my responsibility .
Poor Dad, who gets so little credit, will keep them perfectly alive and they can just remind him of what time they need to be dropped off at well…everywhere in this city. Somehow they forget that without Dad they would have no need to be chauffeured, no waffles and no favorite pants. This man finances their entire fantastic world and yet they don’t trust him to select yogurt flavors in my absence. He does things differently than I do. Our children find it very unsettling.
Alas, I’ll be too far away to look for the swim goggles. (YAY. shhhh.) I don’t even care if they wear their goggles. Let the eyes just sting! I have an idea. They could choose to get along with each other. Put the Nerf products in storage for a change. It’s a week. I’m gone long enough that they will have to find food. Look in the cabinets. Eat cereal 24/7. Maybe eat what is in front of you instead of looking/asking/expecting alternatives. Forage. Figure it out.
They will have a wonderful time. They always do. My husband is fun. He is so good at this if they just give the man a break. They will make it. And a tiny part of me hopes they are watching me leave and will absorb this behavior on a cellular level and think it is normal.
And here is why…
I refuse to be responsible for raising a woman who never does anything for herself by herself and always puts the needs of others ahead of her own.
And I refuse to be responsible for raising sons who never do anything for themselves by themselves and always put the needs of others ahead of their own.
And I want all three of them to witness that parents, all parents, (moms, dads, caregivers, traditional, non-traditional, working, stay at home, single, divorced, widowed, dating) are human. I’m responsible for teaching them this concept. I hope they can someday understand that humans need to have their own experiences and breathe in the world in their own space on their own terms. Everyone needs to have a little something just for themselves, alone, every once in a while.
So when you see my children with Nutella on their faces and they don’t have their library books on media day and they are sulking because they have to wear their least favorite shirt (the scratchy one), please tell them to “SUCK IT UP”. Then, please find my weary husband and give him a hug.
Also, I really really really hope the kids learn to pick up their own damn socks while I’m gone.