Friday, July 29, 2011

A crisis of confidence

Last spring, I heard from one of my best friends from college that she was going through a bit of a life upheaval.  Not like the "I just won $245 million in the lottery and I'm not sure weather to buy an island or have a stadium renamed after me" kind of upheaval, but the "I could use some extra support from my girlfriends" kind of upheaval.  As soon as I hung up the phone with her, I dialed DH at work.

"Honey, do you think I could go out to Boston to visit my friend?" I asked in my best Adoring Wife voice.  "We just got our tax refund, I could use some of it for the plane tickets."

He didn't hesitate.  "Of course!"  Then a brief pause.  "You're taking the boys, right?"

After I finished laughing hysterically and wiped the tears from my eyes, I gently suggested maybe he could take a few days off of work.  I'd only be gone for a long weekend.  He agreed, and the trip was conceived.

Fast forward a few months to this past Wednesday night, the evening before my plane left.  We put the kids down for bed, and suddenly I found my stomach was in knots.  I was nervous, practically terrified!  I tried to talk it out with DH, to figure out what was going on.  He suggested maybe I was worried about how the kids would do without me, or maybe I was afraid I would miss them terribly.

Which certainly plays into it somewhat.  Naturally I do miss them.  I look at their grainy, blurred pictures on my dinosaur phone all the time.

But I think it's more than that.

At the airport, I was a complete idiot.  You'd think it was my first time seeing big machines with wings and engines that fly in the sky like birdies.  I'm staring at the departure screen, trying to find my gate.  Boston... Boston... Boston... no Delta flights to Boston.

Okay, take a deep breath and look again.

No Delta flights to Boston.


I look down at my ticket to check the flight number and departure time.

To Detroit.

Because it wasn't a nonstop flight.

Which, naturally, I already knew.

I looked at the screen again, and phew!  There was a Delta flight to Detroit.  Praise the Lord in Heaven.

As I made my way to my gate, I passed throngs of families with little ones.  Little ones carrying backpacks with their names embroidered on the back.  Little ones in strollers, sucking binkies and looking as relaxed as I wished I was.

And I felt naked.  What was I missing?  Had my ticket, had my books, had my iPod, had my xtreme-chocolate-flavor-blasted Goldfish crackers to snack on.

What I was lacking, therefore, was three small boys and one husband.

To compensate for the feeling that I was forgetting or missing something, I developed OCD checking for my purse, which was tucked in my carry-on.  I can only imagine what my row-mates thought was in my bag, as I grabbed it every 5 minutes and frantically felt around inside.  I'm rather surprised that I wasn't escorted off the plane by an Air Marshal for suspicious behavior.  Just goes to show you they'll let any wacko on a plane these days.

Fortunately the flights were relatively uneventful.  On the first leg, I sat next to Jon Gosslin in disguise (i.e. he wasn't wearing Ed Hardy), and boy does that man TALK!  He was one of those people who spouts a lot of random facts.  At first, I couldn't decide if he was full of crap or if he belonged on Jeopardy.  Eventually it turned out that yes, he was just full of crap.  My layover was a matter of mere minutes, and I was nervous that I wouldn't make the connection, but fortunately there wasn't a problem.  On the second leg of the trip, I sat next to a young man who slept the entire flight. (Wow, I can't believe I just typed "young man."  Further evidence that I am, indeed, very old.)  Anyway, it allowed me to finish reading Life from Scratch, written by one of my favorite bloggers ever, Melissa Ford.  Devoured cover-to-cover on the trip, it was such a delicious read.  (HA!  Get it?  It's a book about cooking, and I "devoured" it because it was "delicious."  Just wanted to make sure you caught that.)

My friend picked me up at the airport (natch) and we headed out to dinner.  Which was incredible.  Did I mention I'm not dieting on the trip?  My goal is to gain back at least 5 pounds. Hey, they'll have more SlimFast shakes at Fred Meyer when I get back.  Anyway, we stuffed our faces (okay, I stuffed my face, my friend is much more civilized) and chatted about Life.  I think we were able to tease out the reason that, although I expect to feel FREE and UNENCUMBERED during this trip, I feel... well, not quite that.  Not yet, at least.

For the first time in years, I am somewhere that I am neither Wife nor Mother.  I am just... Sunny.  I am with my friend, who knew me in college as Sunny well before I got married.  I am meeting her friends here, who aren't watching me wipe evidence of lunch off the faces of my children, but rather are seeing me as Sunny.

I feel... exposed.

And that scares the crap out of me.

I'm worried my clothes aren't cool enough.  I'm worried I won't have anything interesting to say.  I'm worried my friend will think, "Wow, you've lost a lot of yourself over the years."

And I guess on the deepest level, I'm worried that I'll agree.

I'm hoping that this trip is exactly what the doctor (now a psychiatrist, apparently) ordered.  I've got three days of exploring and tasting here in Boston, then another day spent traveling home.  Hopefully during that time I can really start enjoying the fact that I don't have anyone depending on me to pull their pants down so that they can pee, or cut their grilled cheese into itty bitty pieces.  Hopefully during that time I can remember how it feels to just be Sunny, for better or for worse.

But, if you'll excuse me now, I need to get going.  I'm going to go practice being Sunny during a massage.  And mani/pedi. And shampoo and blowdry.

The things I'll do to support a friend and rediscover myself, I tell ya.  It's rough.



Jen said...

It is so easy to forget who you are when your a mother. Between work and my other interests I think that I've done a reasonable job maintaining some balance, but even then I find myself resorting back to my girls as my main topic of conversation.

Have fun in Boston! You deserve a break even if it is a little scary.

Kristina P. said...

I think you will have an amazing time and never want to go back!

Lisa said...

First off, I hope you have a great trip, you totally deserve it.

Secondly, I know exactly what you mean. Even though I don't stay at home with my boys full time, I sometimes like between trying to do, wife, mom, friend, etc...I have no time for me and makes me wonder without all that, who would I be? Anyway, not sure if that even makes any sense, but great post, a lot of food for thought!

Enjoy your trip and have fun being just Sunny! :)

April said...

Yea for getting away. I'm hoping that you'll be able to relax a bit and enjoy your time there. I know exactly how you feel, though. I felt the same way when I traveled without the kids for the first time.

Enjoy the rediscovery! Can't wait for reports! :)


Alana said...

Kudos to you for taking YOU time! I know it's hard to leave the little ones, but soon the feeling of having your heart-strings tugged on will be overshadowed by the bonding/re-connecting/grown-up time YOU will be having. YAY!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I could say that I know how you feel, but I think I don't. I only left the house without George ummm... Three times. Once I went to a play, two times to a concert (not the same one, of course) (just felt the need to clarify that, don't know why). The last time I drove by myself to a Sting concert, and it was great, he may be 59, but he still rocks. But then, when I left, I took the wrong exit and looked for the parking lot for 20 min. In the rain. It came in handy the rain, to help me redo the A-HA Crying in the rain. And I had to go back and fight the crowd leaving the concert, which I intended to avoid doing in the first place, but failed. Aaand (no, it does not end here), I then spent another fabulous 20 minutes looking for my car. I kept pushing the stupid button on the remote to have the lights go on and help me find it, but that was what everyone else was doing, you know, all those people that stayed until the end of the concert, which I missed. And cars were lit all around me, and backing out of the parking, and honking me to go the freck out of their way, and yeah, in a word, I had a blast.
And I came home to find my boys sleeping. Of all the times and nights and days, they had to sleep just when I so needed to unload and talk their ears off. And I only fell asleep after two hours, approximately five minutes before George realised I am back and he should be up.
I never before have been so useless and helpless. If I were to do this headless chicken thing in an airport, and if a stop-over were involved, you'd read about me in the news. So, lady, I end here this very long comment which was meant to make you see just how much I admire you for your courage to tackle this adventure by yourself and actually doing it. Enjoy that mani-pedi.

Our Family said...

Have fun! Who are you visiting? I went on my first solo trip this May and it was glorious! You're right though, it felt very strange going through security with no diaper bag, 3 pairs of shoes, liquids in a separate bin, trying to fold down a double stroller, all while trying to make sure D doesn't run away, etc., etc., etc...Enjoy your "me" time!

Sarah said...

Another reason why DH is so awesome! I've been desperate to take a trip to meet both my sisters someplace, but no doing. Perhaps sometime when all our babies are a bit older. I truly hope you have a fantastic time. I've been there and often "go there" too when it comes to my self-identity. My clothes aren't cute and don't fit quite right, I talk too much about my children, may be pretty boring because of it, and my aspirations from my 20s have changed so much. When I returned to work after H, I found a little of my old self again, but now being home again...the battle continues. That said, with more than one child now, it seems easier/more natural to fall into that Mommy role comfortably. You may miss those beautiful boys, but soak up this time to be yourself and independent with your girlfriend! Indulge your arms to be free of 1,000 things to push and carry! It will be an awesome memory that will carry you through any upcoming rough days! Who deserves the pampering more than you now anyway?! Next trip, ATL! Boys, DH, and Sunny!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

This post not only felt like you were inside my head pre-flight, but it also made me feel less alone. I too feel out of sorts flying without the kids. Unhinged. Which can also be a good thing. But I too have walked through the airport saying to myself, "what the hell is going on here and what am I doing?"

Oh, and I obsessively check everything around me, thinking that I'm forgetting something.

girlygirl448 said...

"For the first time in years, I am somewhere that I am neither Wife nor Mother. I am just... Sunny. I am with my friend, who knew me in college as Sunny well before I got married. I am meeting her friends here, who aren't watching me wipe evidence of lunch off the faces of my children, but rather are seeing me as Sunny.

I feel... exposed.

And that scares the crap out of me.

I'm worried my clothes aren't cool enough. I'm worried I won't have anything interesting to say. I'm worried my friend will think, "Wow, you've lost a lot of yourself over the years."

And I guess on the deepest level, I'm worried that I'll agree."

That, my friend, was quite possibly the best way to sum up my feelings for the last 5 years. I may have to steal it and use it as my own...with credit due, of course. And compared to you, I have it easy (2 under 5 just isn't the same as 3 under 3; and, no matter how big they get, I'll always remember reading "3 under 3" on your siggy, and you will always be the mommy goddess I envision). I hope you're having a BLAST in Boston. Love that you included me in your spa day via dinosaur phone ;). And, just thought you should know that your blog is the first, and ONLY, I've ever comment on. As it should be!

Lavender Luz said...

As always, you crack. me. up.

"At first, I couldn't decide if he was full of crap or if he belonged on Jeopardy."

I sat next to him once, too!

Happy rediscovery. And I hope you sit next to a Quiet Game champion on the flight home.

Soxy Deb said...

I just snuck in to see some pics but as usual you made me laugh my head off.

Good to see you got away and remembered who YOU are for a spell. :)