Early tomorrow morning I'll be flying out of Augusta on a jet plane (at least I hope it's a jet plane...the Augusta airport is about half the size of your average Old Navy...I keep envisioning sitting in a sardine can on the back of an albatross!).
I'm heading to Denver for this conference, and to spend some time with family and friends, no boys allowed (well, I suppose, in a city of a few million, there might be a few boys, but I did not give birth to or marry a single one of them, so they are not my responsibility). I keep whip-sawing between being two states of being. On the one end of the saw I am wicked excited to escape--escape from the constant drone of gratuitous noise that emanates from all four males in this household; escape from the steady hum of the word "Mo-o-om!" (the only time I will hear that word for a whole entire week will be in reference to my mom!); escape from our daily routines, which I have begun to think of as "rounds" (as in a boxing match); escape from in-laws who think hazardous waste makes an excellent child's toy; escape from the tyranny of the computer and the havoc it is wreaking on my wrists, shoulders and eyes; escape, even, from myself (sometimes I hover over my own head, listening to myself talk, and I just want to smack me). Maybe I should have scheduled a week at a spa, or a monastery, or in a sensory deprivation chamber.
On the other end, I'm consumed with guilt and anxiety, and a little bit of an urge to just stay home and give the kids haircuts, clean out the filing cabinet and pull out the hand-me-down bins to find the boys' spring and summer clothes. I have a little bit of a sensation that all hell is going to break loose after the plane takes off. There is some basis for this sensation; every imaginable (and unimaginable) scheduling conflict that could possibly arise has presented itself for the upcoming week: C has a class in Portland two mornings that starts at 8 a.m.--M's bus comes at 7:30; E and Z's school opens at 7:45; Portland is an hour away. M's school scheduled the spring concert for Thursday night. The boys are invited to a birthday party Saturday afternoon. M has baseball practice Saturday morning. C has agreed to give a workshop at a home and garden show Saturday afternoon, at the same time as the birthday party. E and Z are on snack duty at school this week--two snacks per kid per day for 24 kids all week. M has a project due at school the day after I get back. And a film crew is coming to our house to film C for a "Hardest Working Man in America" movie. Don't even ask me about that one. I have the sinking sensation that the occasional barking cough E has is going to blow up into some major illness (I'm in the middle of reading Hope Edelman's The Possibility of Everything, so I may be somewhat influenced by that book; at least our resident imaginary friend, Tom Lighthouse, hasn't made an appearance in a while, so we should be all set on the "child possessed by demons" front). Oh yeah, and my boss's, boss's boss--the head honcho--scheduled a meeting with me for 9:30 the morning after I fly in. Talk about hitting the ground running.
I keep trying to remind myself about the time last year when C went to his grandfather's funeral in Florida, and it was really, really cold, and snowing, and Z, my febrile seizure baby, had a fever and we were all out of children's ibuprofen, and all we had was an old bottle of infant Tylenol that had come out of emulsion into a grainy soup, and I had to help M make a model of an avalanche out of cardboard and cotton balls for a school project. And there was another time, when Cwas away, and I had to drive around with Z, who had stomach flu, in the back of the car, taking all of our returnables to the bottle drive at the soccer field, and into town to get ginger ale and crackers. And I survived. And they'll survive. And I'll resume where I left off, perhaps a few paces back in the Red Queen's Race. I'll have to pick up the pace a bit to get back where I am now, which is barely in sight of where I want to be.