While Mommy is Away…
I learned early on that when you become a mom, you become master of “The List”. Whether it’s a shopping list, a to-do list, a honey-do list, an emergency contact list, a party rsvp list, or a calorie counting/food journal, your daily activities will most likely involve some form of list. If you spot a mother in the wild, you can be sure that somewhere, in her near vicinity, a list exists. Some moms have embraced the wonders of technology and prefer to use their smartphones to keep track of their lists. If you are too busy to create your own list you can even Google a pre-made “mom’s to-do” list. I prefer the old school lined paper and pen method myself. There is immense satisfaction in completing one of my list tasks and I get a rush every time I cross something off my to-do list with a decisive swish pen stroke through a line. (Admit it, you do it too!)
Sometimes, my dear husband will do a market run for us. I appreciate the help with household chores, I really do, it’s a lovely gesture on his part. A lovely gesture which is usually marred when he not only inevitably forgets something that was on the list but fails to even take the list with him in the first place. I’ve now learned to text my husband the grocery list, which works out great, as long as he remembers to bring his phone…
I currently am back at work after a stint of stay-at-home momminess and my new job requires me to travel occasionally. I look forward to getting on that airplane and reading a magazine in peace. I look forward to only having to worry about feeding myself and get a little bit giddy over the fact that I can eat wherever the heck I please. And, after going years without a consistent four straight hours much less six to eight, nothing sounds better than a quiet hotel room. However, I am also now a mom to three children and I am never without worry when leaving them for days at a time.
The home-life preparation required for a five-day work trip is exhausting. Can you imagine the lists this kind of complicated venture entails? This wonderful man I call my husband is now responsible for three children’s schedules, meals and homework assignments. This is on top of his normal routine and working a full time job. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is!
Days and weeks in advance the worries start lining up. What if there is a major earthquake while I’m away? What if the plane goes down? Will my husband know where I store our home movies and photos or will they be lost forever? How will the family function without me much less do it without eating fast food three times a day while I’m gone? These thoughts only add more to my “when I get home” to-do list. Must order emergency preparedness kit and make a family evacuation plan.
Given my anxieties and desire to cover EVERY contingency, the lists I do manage to leave behind for my husband are typically complex. They are so detailed in fact, that they tend to resemble legal documents, complete with tabs, highlighting and even addendums. Each child has specific instructions on a myriad of meal do’s and don’t along. How they like their oranges sliced, what goes in their lunchbox on what day, what shape pasta they will and will not eat are all clearly spelled out in advance. Can’t forget the information regarding our “village”, the amazing circle of mom friends who help out with carpools and getting the kids to after school activities when you aren’t able to. Time to add another addendum with those women’s contact information. I could go on, but you get the picture.
My time away on my last trip was glorious. No, I was not in Hawaii or in Paris. We flew to Middle America and I really didn’t get to see much aside for our client’s offices and the inside of my hotel room. But I was alone and it was quiet and I enjoyed every moment. Fellow moms can commiserate.
Even amidst my excitement over my working “vacation,” I still checked in with the family. On our daily facetime calls before and after school, I could see that my kids were safe, happy, and healthy. The lists and addendums were working and my husband was, after all, a responsible adult, capable of juggling daily tasks. It didn’t matter if everyone ate a fruit and vegetable at each meal or if socks were two different shades of blue. I had no control over those little things and I was too far away to micromanage. In short, it was all okay.
I arrived back from the trip and stepped into a home that could have doubled for a scene from a break-in. Had a hurricane blown through the house? The evidence of my absence was apparent in the toys strewn about the living room, the pile of dishes in the sink and the smattering of dry cereal stuck to the entry way rug. I knew it would take me at least a week to get everything back in order.
The moment after taking in the destruction, I was attacked with a flurry of hugs and kisses from children and spouse alike. I instantly knew my kids and husband appreciated me more than ever which made all the stress and anxiety leading up to my trip more than worth it. And, oh how I missed them all in return. As I held onto my children and breathed them in, though, I noticed their sweet little heads smelled just a tad bit…different. Turning to my husband I casually asked: “When was the last time they showered?” My husband looked at me and hesitatingly answered: “Uuummmm, probably 5 days ago.” I shrieked off a startled reply of “What!” to which he, oh so helpfully responded: “It wasn’t on the list.”