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On the Road Again

I took my first overnight trip away from Simon just over a year ago when I went to my company’s annual meeting in our Indianapolis office. Then I traveled three times again without Simon: to Las Vegas, to Boston, and then, regrettably, to Las Vegas again.

Travel is gearing up again, as I leave for Indianapolis later today. By now, these trips are taking a familiar shape of happy anticipation of getting some “me” time, dread of being away from Simon, guilt for looking forward to getting some “me” time, and the general insanity that comes from trying to get everything together. Whether I’m gone for two days or a full week, I always feel I cannot leave town until every bill is paid, the beds all have fresh sheets, the towels are washed and stacked, the clothes are neatly folded in drawers, childcare has been arranged, the kitchen restocked, and the fridge cleaned out.

Under normal circumstances this behavior is a bit excessive. But for this trip, I feel like I’m behind the eight-ball no matter what gets done between now and when I leave because I’ve got houseguests arriving just as I depart and because Simon is home (again) with the bug-of-the-month.

Blerg. The only thing longer than the to-do list of chores I won’t get to is the to-do list of small indulgence I also will not get to. The most striking statement about the amount of time having a small child takes up is this: The very business trips I used to resent for their infringement into my free time (all day meetings! late-night email! time spent traveling!) now represents a vast uptick in my allotted free time (business lunches! catered breakfasts! Time in the car or on the plane!)

Herewith is a small list of things I look forward to doing in the next two days:

1.      I will get three solid hours of NPR on the drive. That’s an hour and half each way before I lose my connection to 89.3. I’m not in Indy long enough to find NPR there, and there’s a deadly zone between the two cities where all I can ever get is Spanish-language programming, the kind of country I don’t listen to, and what I think of as the John Cougar Mellencamp channel.

2.      I will take a hot bath in the hotel tub without worrying that the noise will wake up Simon.

3.      I will drink my morning tea or coffee without interruption.

4.      I will sit down at a table for lunch.

5.      Dinner will consist of more than one dish.

6.      I may sneak in a quick trip to Nordstrom (there’s one by the hotel).

7.      I may stop by the Childcraft Outlet in Seymour and look for a bed (this is where I found Simon’s crib three years ago).

On the flip side, there is also a list of things I will feel bad/guilty about missing:

1.      I won’t hear Simon wake up in the morning.

2.      I won’t be there to tuck him in at night.

3.      I won’t be able to make his pancakes in the morning.

4.      I won’t be able to take his temperature and make sure he’s totally fever free within 24 hours of going back to school.

5.      I’ll miss some really funny things he says.

6.      His diapers will pile up again.

7.      I won’t be there to inventory and sort his toys.

I’m sure this dichotomy is one shared by moms everywhere. Basically, I long for a taste of the freedom of my childless life, but find it fraught when I get the chance. Unless or until I figure out how to be two places at once, I think I’ll be having these feelings for a long, long time.

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