The Lightness of Distance

ChicagoI’ve just landed in Chicago.

All week I’ve been  reciting reasons why I shouldn’t board the plane this morning at 7:30 am.  And, in fact, I had Scott last night at 10:30 pm checking to see if I could at least get a later flight–I hadn’t packed a thing and we had just shaved the head of our youngest child.

“. . .shaved the head of our youngest child”  might seem like some weird cult act or good luck charm regarding my hesitancy to fly. But, in full disclosure, we’ve been in an epic battle with lice all week, and  when at 8 pm last night, I realized I was losing the battle on my four year old’s head (oh, it was also his birthday)  I told Scott in the very cold and calculated voice of a Mafia hit man, “Shave it off.”

He could easily join the military now. . .if it weren’t for his height. . .and weight. . .and his sometimes over-the-top mommy attraction.

The lice were just the latest in our “Jobian” September which began sadly with the unexpected death of Scott’s brother, Ron, three birthdays (those deserve a post on their own–do you find that birthdays are rivaling Christmas on the stress meter?), a husband whose work hours seem 24/7, and then CUE THE LICE (this too deserves its own post).

But, to be honest, I was really trying to get out of this trip since mid August: it is my 25th college reunion. It might seem odd that I would be trying to get out of this event. My days at Creighton University were some of the best days of my life. An awakening. A defining. A broadening of possibilities. And, most importantly friends that I’ve now known for nearly 30 years and with whom picking up the phone and talking make it seem like we were together yesterday! I remember graduating and thinking that the possibilities were scarily endless, but that I could explore and discover different paths and then turn around and start over again.

But, total immersion in motherhood does something to a woman’s psyche and I didn’t think I could face going back to the place where thoughts and possibilities were like deep sea exploring: new worlds unfolding invigorating the senses. Motherhood, with all of its joys

Here I was returning as a caricature. . .a stereo-type  of a middle aged mom who in caring for family has let everything else go: career, body, hobbies, a sense of self that had the hope of new possibilities.

As I started my descent into Chicago, gradually that other. . .that college girl began to emerge. Lighter. Expectant. Excited.

And, as I started walking around Midway Airport, texting my girlfriends in Omaha these three thoughts came to mind.

1. Distance is good. As we descended into Chicago I suddenly felt the lightness of distance. It was the realization that I wasn’t going to be dealing with homeork and projects, soccer games, making dinner (or lunch or breakfast): I was just going to be able to concentrate on one person: Me. That sounds so self-centric but if you aren’t a parent, or more specifically a mother, you don’t understand how self gets is often at the bottom of the laundry hamper like that lone sock that no one reaches down into the dark abyss to retrieve, clean and pair back up with its mate.

2. Girlfriends are Golden: When I texted my college  girlfriends that I landed in Chicago and was about to board for Omaha they texted back about having a pedicure. . .lunch . . .and going thrifting when I arrived. Oh.  . .and what kind of wine would I want? WHAT?! Are you kidding me? All of my favorite things! I nearly started sobbing in front of the Midway Food Court. There is nothing like returning to my female villagers.

3. A different perspective is Necessary. Now that I’m a thousand miles from home I can think about things. I can imagine different possibilities. I can begin problem solving and seeing solutions that I haven’t been able to do at home. I read an entire Time magazine! And the article that struck me was how important sleep is and how the implications of not getting enough are dire. No one in my family, especially Scott and I , are getting enough sleep. What if the easiest thing to change would be our bedtime?

4. Home doesn’t really leave you and that’s okay: While walking in the airport I looked out one of the windows in the concourse and saw a jet take off. Even in my mid forties (well, + a couple years) the sight is thrilling and I thought, “Oh man the kids would have LOVED to have seen that!” Where ever I am I bring their eyes and perspective. I notice and assess almost every playground that I pass.  I see toy stores and bike riders and every water feature a place offers. As a mom (do dad’s do this too?) I’m almost always seeing things that I want to share with my family. When shopping I’m always looking for something for one of them, too. This is okay. I do miss my family when I’m away and even though I absolutely enjoying the break from being Mom. Seeing things through their eyes actually helps me notice things that in my sometimes cynical, definitely narrowed view of my surroundings.

 

 

 

 

 

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