Parenting Stories: Flying Solo
By Lea Geller
The following three statements came out of my mouth this week:
1. It’s not a poo, it’s a chewed up tomato. Sit down and stay in the bath.
2. Please move over and give you brother a turn to try and burn down the house.
3. Someone give me a straight answer: How much toilet paper did she eat?
By the time the third statement was hanging in a bubble over my head, I knew I was ready for a break. And I have one coming. Three nights, three days. Alone. I’ve written frequently about surviving when your spouse is on the road, but it’s not often I get to muse about being the one leaving. Here are some tips I plan on following myself:
2. Don’t let go too much. M seems to believe that in order to get a true break, I need complete radio silence from him and the kids. In fact, we have family members who feel the same way. But again, when you’re the point person for all the minutiae, it’s not only unnatural, it’s downright terrifying to hear nothing at all. If I were going for a week or so (a girl can dream, can’t she?) I’d wean myself slowly. But for a few days away I need mini updates. I’m not asking for bowel movement reports (anymore) or video feeds of the baby sleeping (picture was never very clear anyway), but I do need a couple of lines in an email just checking in. What I do not need is to return from a small break and find out from a friend, in a text, that a child of mine has broken his arm. Enough said.
3. Look great. I don’t have mom jeans (that I know of), but I certainly have clothes that yell MOTHER OF FIVE. I plan on leaving most of them at home. Instead I shall pack things I don’t wear at home because at any moment someone could walk by and wipe a booger on me. (If you’re traveling to some cities, this could happen anyway, so be prepared.) So, I pack special things, things that need dry cleaning. I know I still look harried enough not to fool anyone, but a little pretending goes a long way.
4. Don’t go overboard. Thankfully, my running partner reminded me that I must resist the urge to wear makeup on the plane. Every time I’ve done it, I’ve had a new pimple to greet me as I’ve landed. I’d rather look washed out while airborne than pubescent when I land. Also, remember that poncho you bought in Peru that you thought you’d wear all winter but made you look like a brightly-colored stuffed pillow the moment you got home? If you happen to be shopping on your trip don’t start buying ridiculous things you’ll only be able to wear on these trips. I have now learned that there is no discount deep enough to warrant the purchase of cashmere. None at all. If you see me out and about this weekend with a cashmere sweater in my hands, please please please stage an intervention.
5. Plan ahead. I don’t like to end one vacation without having the next one planned, even if the next one is an overnight road trip. It makes reentry slightly less painful. This is especially true when I’m alone. I need to have date night with M scheduled, or at the very least, a long run. Similarly, I don’t want to repeat the mistake of racing home, running through the front door, and immediately enveloping the chaos. Because I know that the minute I get home I will have to struggle to remember what it felt like to be alone, to know that the kids are being bathed, but I’m not the one doing it, to know that the mountain of food under the table will be cleaned up (or not) by someone other than me. This time, I will reflect. I plan on sitting in front of the house for a few minutes, soaking in the solitude. Only then I will run up the stairs, charge through the front door, and dive head first into the insanity.
About Lea Geller
I’m a part-time lawyer, full time mother of five (ages nine and down)… Currently in sunny Seattle. People ask how I manage it all, and I like to say that I do lots of things, but none of them very well. That’s my secret…. In a house of seven strong, distinct personalities, I always seem to have a story to tell. I suppose I got tired of people telling me, ‘You have to write this down!” So, I finally did, and blogging about our large mishaps, small triumphs, and other adventures, has helped hold my sanity together, albeit loosely. Check out the rest of Lea's family's adventures on her blog, This Is the Corner We Pee In.