So I'm on my first real vacation away from my kids. I have had a night away here or there (three, to be exact, one away from Luke when he was two and two different single nights away from Luke and Henry last summer) but this is different. This is a long weekend.
I've flown to Seattle to meet my mom and sister. And it is really, really lovely. Even the getting here, which, in my life before children would have felt very trying--a car trip to the airport, two different flights, and a shuttle ride to the hotel--felt completely surreal and relaxing. I napped on the plane! I read half of a novel! I sipped coffee!
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon getting facials and haircuts, then lounged around in bed snacking, napping, and reading. Then, last night, we wandered around looking for a place to eat, and wound up in a nice bar sipping wine and eating spinach dip.
So we are having a really wonderful vacation. But I'm having a hard time sleeping, and I'm needing to quell the occassional wave of anxiety that laps at the edges of my good time. Because, even though my youngest is two and a half, even though I "deserve this," and even though, as my hairdresser said yesterday, "Oh my gosh, it is high time! You waited long enough!" I still feel off kilter. My pacing is off. I don't quite know how to function without my kids around me for such a space of time.
I'm the kind of person that needs a routine, needs motivation. I need a plan. And that is what my kids are. They divide my day into little tasks, and when I manage to squeeze in a paragraph or two of writing, or a load of laundry, or a thirty minute workout, I feel very accomplished. And when I'm able to be patient with them all day, I feel so satisfied. Here, faced with the expanse of self-indulgence in the day ahead of me, I feel really lucky, but also a little hollow.
On the airplane, as my first flight was about to land in Chicago and we were flying low over the frozen edge of Lake Michigan, I imagined crashing into the icy water. And I looked at all the people around me, and wondered who I would help, and the thought came rushing into my head that, you know, I wouldn't help anyone. I would swim as hard as I could so I could make it to the shore and get back to my Luke and my Henry.
And that thought goes against all of my lofty notions of myself as a good person, but it also makes me think that it is good and right that I feel off kilter without my kids. We are supposed to be together. There is nothing wrong with wanting them by my side, under my wing. That is right where they belong.