Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

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.


eva said...

Ser, Eva here writing from France where I too have been blogging. But now that I have delved into yours I am humbled by your hilarious writing- this blog is amazing. I guess I can continue my blog without the pressure you have to keep people expecting such great and funny things- I'm proud if I can even remember to write, let alone post more than a paragraph! Anyway, I will put your blog as a top fave in my bookmarks and as I continue to read it maybe I'll even learn how to be a little funny from you.... Keep at it. Nothing I appreciate more than someone who makes me laugh out loud. I especially love your Christmas form letter. That should really be published.

Nancy said...

Ser-Your post totally takes me back to my two trips alone this past year. I was generally fine as long as I was on the ground, but the airports and flights really were tough. I think about that good and noble stuff often. I'd swim, too.

marji said...

This poignant post reminds me, too, of being off on my own. That emply nest feeling rings true. I always longed for the time alone after I was back home during the throws of re-entry. The uninterrupted bliss of motherhood continues to elude me!

Molly Sabourin said...


This is so touching! I really feel very teary and united with you and all mothers who become "off kilter" when away from their families, their holy routines, and their sacred accomplishments. To evoke such emotion and empathy from at least this reader says a great deal about your blossoming skills as a writer.