I think this will be my last quiet week of summer. This weekend I’m off to Pennsylvania for ten days, then home for a busy four days, and then the kids and I go to Wisconsin for ten days. Two days later, the new school year starts, and “summer” will be over.
But I don’t want to rush it. I want to savor the next month.
Pennsylvania will be a first for me. I think we drove through during a hurricane once when I was nine or ten, but I’ve never really been there. This won’t be the usual kind of trip for me. I will be on my own–no husband, no kids, no dog. Nobody to answer to and nobody to take care of except me. It’s not a sightseeing trip, though I wish I could fit it in. I’m not going to visit friends, though I hope I will make some new ones. Nope, I’m going to a nonfiction writing workshop, and that is definitely a first.
I’m inching up to the workshop with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I am eager to learn and work, but nervous about being there. I’m looking forward to some freedom, but wondering what I will do with myself without kids to watch out for. Not that that they really need watching out for anymore. But it’s hard to get out of the Mom mode. And the truth is, the Mom mode can be kind of a crutch. I realize that I’ve come to depend on it over the years.
Last month, when the doctor pronounced my broken ankle healed and told me I could start walking without crutches, I had a few moments of panic. I couldn’t remember how to walk. It had only been seven weeks, but I had to think hard about it. The doctor assured me the feeling was normal and that I could still use one of the crutches for stability if I needed it. Of course I didn’t need it. I only needed confidence that I could walk without falling down. And getting it back didn’t take that long.
So, this weekend I will set aside my crutch and walk into the workshop as myself–not Mom, not Sweetie. Just Jeannette, aspiring writer. And I am excited for that. I’m glad I followed my whim and applied for the workshop. I’m glad my husband bought the plane ticket immediately so I couldn’t back out (he knows me too well). I feel like I have something ahead of me, a chance for new opportunities–which is a feeling I haven’t had too often as a work-at-home mom. Not that I haven’t loved the choice I made, but I do realize what I gave up to make it.
A line from the song “Pinch Me” (Barenaked Ladies) keeps going through my head lately. I think my subconscious speaks to me that way. “It’s like a dream you try to remember, but it’s gone; then you try to scream, but it only comes out as a yawn, when you try to see the world beyond your front door.”
The “dream,” to me, is the first thirty years of my life, when I traveled the world, moved every three years, survived earthquakes and volcanoes, and longed more than anything for stability. I’ve had my stability for a couple decades now. It’s been wonderful. But I see the change ahead, rolling in like a slow wave. I want to scream sometimes–I don’t want my kids to grow up, I want to be able to tuck them in and cuddle with them and read stories to them forever. I don’t want to highlight my hair to hide the gray strands. I don’t want to see silver on my husband’s scruffy chin. I want to stop time ten years ago, and I wish I still didn’t understand what it meant to be older and wiser.
But…I am older, and the wiser me sees there’s nothing for it but to yawn and make the best of it. And take steps to create a life in the world beyond my family’s front door.
This weekend, I will step back out into that world. I don’t know what’s out there waiting for me, but I’m excited, and I’m going for it–Pennsylvania, here I come!