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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Things I’m Dreading, part I


Next week I’m heading to Nashville for a conference. I’m not dreading the conference, which should be interesting. I’m not dreading my presentation, which is a roundtable and thus doesn’t actually require me to write and present a paper. I’m not dreading Nashville (Johnny Cashville); I’m not even daunted by the fact that the conference is being held at Opryland Hotel (where I’ll be sleeping as well as convening). What I am dreading is four days away from my little boy.

I’m leaving shortly after I drop O. off at preschool on Thursday morning, and I won’t be back ‘til mid-afternoon on Sunday. Three nights and nearly four days. When I’ve mentioned my dread of being away from O. for that stretch, people have said “It’ll be good for both of you,” or “It’s time.” And I’m sure we’ll both be fine, but it doesn’t feel like it’s time. I feel a little sick when I think about not seeing him for that long, and him not seeing me that long. It’s not rational in any way. It’s just how I feel.

Partly I just dig my kid. I’ll miss him like I’ll miss my Old Man. And of course I have an irrational belief that O. is inherently safer with me at home, or at least within a several mile radius. But it’s more than that. At three-going-on-four, O. is definitely a kid, but he’s a little kid. He’s still got some of that baby magic. Sometimes after an especially long day at work, I feel the lack of him, of hearing his piping, inimitable voice, feeling his heavy little weight sitting on my lap or his gentle hand in mine. The thought of not having contact with him for that long makes me sad.

The one big thing that offsets this sadness is my knowledge that, with my own room at the Opryland Hotel, I will be spending numerous, glorious hours by myself in the course of these four days, more concentrated time alone than I’ve had since O. was born. I love being alone; I have since I was a teenager. My need to spend a significant amount of time by myself has been a point of negotiation in every romantic relationship I’ve ever had. But you can’t define the terms of your relationship with your very young child. Okay, I’ll nurse you, nurture you, sing to you, change your shitty diapers, etcetera, but I need at least two hours by myself every day, capiche? In becoming O’s mama, I have gladly made myself less the center of my own world, and part of that has involved me setting aside my need for time alone. But I do miss it, and this is one reason that, in addition to dreading next weekend, I’m also looking forward to it.

I had a near-miss last week when one of my less organized colleagues realized that she hadn’t booked a hotel for the conference and sheepishly asked if she could room with me, since she’d discovered that all the nearby hotels were now full. I was a little annoyed, given that I got my shit together and booked my room in May. Mostly though, I was torn between my desire to be nice, suck it up, and do what seemed in the abstract like the right thing and my urge to say “Sorry, sister. Have a nice cab ride from the airport Hilton.” Luckily, my principal, who is making the trip with us, saved my ass by offering to let the disorganized colleague stay in her room. She knew how much I was looking forward to spending some time alone (mostly because I had dropped by her office to kvetch about my dilemma). When I thanked her profusely for her generous and diplomatic offer, she brushed it off: “It’s no big deal. My kid’s away at college. I live by myself. I get to be alone all the time.” Still, I feel like she spared me from spending the long weekend feeling either guilty or resentful.

None of that changes the fact that I will miss my boy very much. But I’m bringing my guitar, and that will help ease my separation blues.

10 Comments:

Blogger Feral Mom said...

Awww, man. I know, It's hard to leave them, but once you're gone there's this zingy, exhilarating feeling...punctuated with periodic bursts of feeling like you left your wallet on top of the car at the gas station, times fifty. Everything's cool, except, aren't I forgetting something? The conference itself will probably be a helpful distraction. Glad that you were able to keep your own room and that you're bringing your guitar! You should scout out an open mike and play "Road Outta Normal."

8:21 PM  
Blogger E. said...

I definitely plan to play "Road Outta Normal" to anyone who'll listen. It's definitely the most Nashville song I've written.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Orange said...

So glad the principal saved you from having to share your hotel room. There's nothing quite like having a hotel room to oneself.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Esereth said...

I don't have anything good to add, just wanted to say I really liked reading this. I love hearing that I'll be incredibly attached to my child, so much that even my favorite things won't feel so favorite without them.

10:48 AM  
Blogger jen said...

i absolutely relate. was just in Denver and went through much of the same..but that said, time to ourselves is a precious thing too, and if you are stuck with it...well, order room service.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, are you staying in the bizarre biosphere thing? That place is a trip. It'll be a blog entry all on its own, trust me.

6:27 PM  
Blogger E. said...

Yes, apparently the Opryland Hotel is a little terrarium-type world unto itself. I think there's a lake in the lobby? With boats? I'm a little afraid, but basically game. (It will help that I am not personally paying for any of this excess...)

7:29 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey, can I come and stay with you? Haw haw haw.

I once had to leave my kid for a few days and fly across country when she was 8 months old. That was the absolute worst.

I think the only way around missing your kid is to do all the things you never get to do when he's around. That way you get to have a little fun and feel refreshed and/or rejuvenated when you finally get to get your arms around him again.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

Enjoy! I think you'll find that four days will zooom by. Savor every pre-made bed and room service meal - and don't forget to steal all the toiletries.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Lucky Star said...

The best part about it, next to the sweet solitude? The phone calls. You'll call home and he'll jabber your ear off and you'll shed a little mommy tear...

Have fun!! I can't wait to hear how you spend your time!

6:31 PM  

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