When I was pregnant for the first time, I made a trip to Washington D.C. by myself. I thought of the trip as my last chance to have time to myself. Though I stayed in a friend's apartment, she worked while I came and went as I pleased. I spent days on end in the Smithsonians staring at Picassos, Renoirs, Cassats. I drank in the details of sculture and pottery. I puzzled over Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can. I rambled to coffee houses here and there. Very pleasant and relaxing.
That was 12 years ago, and I haven't taken any long trips since- alone unless you count the ones to the grocery store.
In two days, I will have another chance to rediscover time to myself fora period two weeks. I'm visiting Santa Barabara. I'll have hard but good work in the day, and late afternoon to evenings are free. I'm hoping it's a walk to the beach. Sand between my toes, rushing water sounds in my ears, wind in my hair, and liminal vistas to fill my eyes will do.
Talking to other moms the other day, I mentioned my trip. One looked dismayed and said, "I took a trip by myself once, and I ended up going to the mall to stare at other people's children because I missed mine." Inside I panicked at her words. Anxiety begins to creep in. What if I miss my family THAT much? Or worse, what if I don't? Does that make me a terrible mother to not want to look at children I don't know? When I think about my dear husband's choices with the children I worry a bit. When I went out for a day, he let my 9 year old daredevil try the lawnmower. Next thing I knew, and when no one was looking, I found my boy on the lawnmower looking like he was about to start it. My children constantly already say, "If you won't let me, Daddy will." What about the chaos of an unattended home? What about the looming school year? I'll start teaching late AGAIN this year. What about the things I've put off that I promised I'd get to when I get back? How will I get to it all?
Then I remember, I really love my family even if I'm spending weeks away. My husband is a better man than any I know. And he loves his children in a way they need that I can't give. Houses can be remembered. Time will fall into place as it always does to get to all my self assigned tasks.
I suppose this is one way to survey an abundant life. I have opportunity and possibility always at my finger tips. I feel compassion for others who have emptiness and don't have to things to look forward to. I'm grateful for this part of my journey. It will never come again.
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