Readers, I have been in Texas, away from my family, since Wednesday, performing Mother Load at the beautiful Eisemann Center in Richardson. The last two shows are today, and although I am very excited to get on the plane tomorrow and go home to my kids, I am also secretly savoring every last moment of freedom.
Picture this, Mommy: four and a half hours on a plane. No kids with you. No movie or Jet Blue TV, either. No nap, unfortunately, because you are seated next to the galley, where Smashing of Bags of Ice occurs every ten minutes or so. But four and a half hours, to read catalogs, and magazines, and do the crossword, and have a Coke. That flight was a vacation in itself.
When we arrived at the venue Wednesday afternoon, the stage manager and company manager both had duties to attend to. “Meet us at the theater at 6 pm,” they said. That meant I had two hours to kill in the hotel across the street.
I didn’t want to work out, because I didn’t want to get sweaty and have to take a shower. So I unpacked. I sat on the bed. I turned on the TV. I turned off the TV. I paced around. Six minutes had passed.
I called my babysitter. “How are you managing?” I asked. “Oh, fine,” she said. “David just got home, the kids are all fed and bathed.” “Can I talk to them?” I asked. She put down the phone and went to get the boys. “Sorry,” she said when she came back. “They’re watching Prehistoric Planet and I can’t tear them away.”
No one needed me. No one WANTED me. I’d already read for four hours, I was sick of reading. So I laid on the bed. And did NOTHING. Nothing at all.
It was a weird feeling, like stepping out onto the landscape of a strange new planet that may or may not have gravity and/or oxygen. What is this thing I am feeling? I wondered. Could this be boredom? Or even… RELAXATION?
Since then, I will have done six shows in four days, so it’s not like I’m a total slacker. But keep in mind that in the past, I’ve always done six shows in four days while also taking care of my kids. This has been a marvelous strange time for me: to sleep until I’m not sleepy anymore; to finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot; to go to the mall, alone, and when the lady at the makeup counter says, “Do you have time for a touchup?” to hear myself say, “Why, yes. Yes, I do”; to eat room service and watch Notting Hill, because even though there’s only one TV, I get to decide what’s on.
I imagined myself using my free time during these days to write several chapters of my book, work out for at least an hour and a half daily, and solve the world’s problems. I have done none of those things. I have rediscovered the value of doing not much. And I have also rediscovered that my children do OK without me for a couple of days, and that I will have vastly renewed stores of energy and patience and love for them when I see them tomorrow.
So, if you’re a mother who stays home with your kids, I recommend a Business Trip. Make up a business if you have to, and hit the Holiday Inn by the interstate. You won’t be sorry.