by tara morley
Panicking in Heels
It just happened again. While walking down the airport terminal, I randomly stop in the middle of the hall and frantically pause to count my bags. One carry-on, a purse, a jacket…. “Is that all I should have? Did I forget something?” I ask myself as I feel my heart rate increasing. Short of the onset of a full-fledged panic attack I remember. Yes, that’s it. It’s just you this trip. Four days to be “off.” Relax. You have nothing to worry about. Deep breaths…
For the third time since I’ve left the house two and a half hours ago, I talk my “inner mommy” off the ledge and let her know that it’s okay to let our guard down a bit. There are no children, no backpacks, and no stuffed animals to keep tabs on today. No potty breaks other than mine; no sticky fingers to keep off other passengers; and no whining about snacks. Okay, maybe a little whining about snacks. Nobody likes to be hangry, especially not me. Granola bar in the purse? Check!
For once, I am traveling in heels instead of flats. I’m wearing a white shirt instead of the usual hides-a-multitude-of-sins grey. And after a few more deep breaths, I realize that I have time to stop for a glass of chardonnay instead of needing to scope out a place to play tag.
It’s… it’s… freedom.
When Freedom Costs a Buck-O-Five
But freedom ain’t free, as they say. Two kids and almost a decade into my marriage, I’ve lost count of the times I planned the family trips, packed the bags, prepped the kids/dogs, and pumped everyone up for “the next great adventure”– whether it be to visit grandma, to tour Tierra del Fuego, or to move four states (or countries) over. If you are the primary caregiver, you know the drill: if you don’t think of it, it doesn’t get done. It’s pretty much that cut and dry Monday through Friday, and doubly so when it comes to traveling.
And it’s hard to turn off.
I’m just not used to having nothing to fuss over. Not yet anyway. And in the days leading up to this trip, the prospect of having 96 hours off-duty was so enthralling and yet–so daunting. When did relaxing get this hard? Making lists, writing up schedules, confirming and reconfirming drop-off and pick-up routines, posting emergency contact lists to the fridge… ugh. It took me two full days to prepare to leave for four.
If my younger self knew that “planning to take time off” was ever going to be this hard, I would have more deeply appreciated those hours I wiled away watching Law & Order.
So here I am, almost at the gate, ready to relax. I can still hear my husband’s voice as I walked out of the apartment this morning, “This is your weekend. Go! Enjoy! We’ll be fine.” You sure? Okay. Just one more round of kisses and I’ll be off. Finally, I grab my suitcase and hop in the elevator. His head popped around the corner once more before the doors closed, “Oh and thanks for the lists! You know we won’t do it your way but we’ll be fine. Everyone will survive! Everyone’s pieces will be in their places when you get back. Love you byeeeeee!”
And he’s right. Does it have to be my way? Not really. It’s as good for me to be off as it is for them to just figure it out together for a few days. But I just couldn’t leave without writing it down, ya know?
So as I sip my chardonnay, I start to plot out how I’ll spend these next few days. Plans to sleep in mingle with thoughts of finishing that book I started a few weeks back. Catching up with friends will go into the wee hours of the night. (Or, more realistically, we’ll all be tucked in by 9:00pm and grateful for the night of uninterrupted sleep.) Who knows? Hmmm, I could get used to this… Slowly but surely the 96 hours that seemed daunting while I packed, now seem like an eternity that is slipping by too quickly at the same time.
The gate attendant just announced we are ready to board. Okay, here I go! Ready to be “just me” for a few days. Ready to rest my mommy brain and trust that everyone will survive while I am gone.
Well, almost ready.
Maybe just one last text to see that everyone is okay….