(Note: if you’re one of the many who skip my “writing” posts…don’t. Not today.)
For thirty hours last weekend, I lived out a fantasy. I left behind diapers and whining and runny noses and kids who change their mind ten times and food prep and cleanup…and I went to a writer’s convention.
I walked the halls of the Westport Sheraton with purpose, knowing the time was short and this was my time to seize the hour. I filled every moment with conversation, with mental stimulation, with picking the brains of people who share some of the same dreams. I asked questions, I made connections, handed out business cards, and honestly didn’t dwell much on those I’d left at home. Because this was my weekend. A weekend to be a writer. Not a writer mama. Just a writer.
As Saturday wound down, I found myself regretting that I hadn’t stretched the time, paid the extra money for masterclasses on Sunday morning. But I knew that at the other end of the highway, I had a husband who was probably quickly reaching his saturation point with single parenthood. It was time to go home.
I left the convention center on another freakishly hot afternoon destined to end in thunderstorms and restarting the heater. I had to stop somewhere for dinner, so I whipped out my emergency-only cell phone and called my sister. “Whatcha doing? Want to come have dinner?”
A spur-of-the-moment dinner date? Me? It felt …strange. Unsettling. A little guilty. Because as the pavement unfolded between me and the dreamy unreality of Convention, all the Mommy parts of me began to wake back up.
After a flying dinner at Culver’s (for which the scales is still chastising me), I apologetically took my leave and got back on the road. Zooming toward the setting sun, my mind and heart, which had remained firmly focused on me all weekend, began to stretch homeward. And for the first time I felt a pang of longing for those at the other end of the highway, who surely missed me.
It wasn’t time enough. I wanted more time to spend by myself. I hadn’t gotten to stretch out across the bed and read, to get up and write an essay on my NEO without having to worry about rousting someone out of bed. I wanted more time in which I was not responsible for nurturing any young hearts or caring for mature relationships. I wanted more time just for me. And yet I knew that if there had been enough time, I would still have been dissatisfied, because still a part of myself would be missing.
They say that parenthood is having your heart walk around outside your body. I realize now that parenthood is a perpetual state of dividing yourself, a state in which there will never—can never—be enough of me to go around. I’ll always wish I have more time for me, for them, for husband, for revisiting the unencumbered me of earlier years. Part of me will always long to sit on the old tin roof back at the farm and watch the sunset fade into starry night. Part of me will always long for more time (and money) to attend conventions, to network, write, and fulfill the questing of my heart. But if I did any of those things as much as I wanted, another part of me would cry out. Because wherever I am, a piece of me is walking around a house, a school, a campus…looking at books, punching buttons on that stupid Mozart cube, playing superhero-of-the-day, repeating “Ma-ma? Ma-ma? Ma-ma?”
It will never be enough. But that’s a sign of the richness of my life. And for these moments of understanding, I am so very, very grateful.