I’m sitting in my office, staring at a blank screen. I’m YouTubeing. I’m googling. I’m searching. My days are full, but they are empty. I live by a routine that cycles back into itself again and again, wake up to the same streaks of light through the bamboo shades, turn and turn in my bed at night as my heart races and my mind talks to itself.
I love being with my children and I crave more solitary time. This morning, I answered breakfast requests but then the fickle children changed their minds. Shaya turned away a bowl of homemade oatmeal. “Taste Mommy’s oatmeal!” And the spoonful from my bowl to his mouth was the nectar of the gods. Asher pouted when his cereal arrived with milk. “I didn’t say I wanted MILK!” The only thing I could do was turn the music loud and dance in circles on the cork floor.
On Monday, they leave for a week with their father, and I fly to the other side of the country for a vacation alone.
I don’t know if I am more excited for the scenery, the hiking, the wine tasting, or the adventures that come with exploring a place I don’t know. Or maybe what I am most anticipating is the freedom to wake when I want, sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, and soak in a tub if I don’t feel like doing anything else, with no one knocking at the door.
Will I be lonely? I might. But I’m not scared of that. What I’m most afraid of is that I will like it so much, I won’t relish the return to routine and responsibility.
I’m sure all parents feel this way from time to time – love your kids, love when they’re elsewhere.
And with this trip on my horizon, I just can’t focus on the work at hand. Worry about the bottom line, bills to pay, hell – what to make for dinner tonight since the kids want one thing and I want another – that’s all a collage of a background to the day at hand.
I know I should silence the voices and anxieties in my head and just do the work. Easy enough.
But it’s not enough right now. I’m the kind of person who’s riddled with wondering about my life’s defining work, what it all means, and whether I’ll ever make a mark on the world. I’m turning 37 next week.
Sometimes, I wish I could go back and do things differently. Not be the Cliffs Notes queen in high school, but really read the classics. Not care about having a boyfriend in college, but study my ass off to the top of my class. Find a life’s work, a goal, beyond just crafting rich sentences and layered phrases.
For so long, I have been a woman of words. Recently, I’ve been learning to live in the spaces between the words and you know what? I LOVE IT. To choose carefully, to think before speaking, to savor the BEING. I love it.
I’m turning 37 next week. I can’t go back. But what I do from here has to matter so much, I’m almost afraid of taking even a single step for fear of it being superfluous.
I guess the answer, then, is to just go slow. Be deliberate. Breathe.