Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Every now and again, my day job requires me to travel out of town for meetings. It is usually only a few days, but it is just long enough to shake up our family routine. Within each family, there seems to be a master scheduler/list maker – and in ours, I hold this role. Thus, no matter how short these trips may be, the list of directions that must be left behind for hubby Mackdaddy Mike to hold down the proverbial fort looks more like a manuscript. Without every minute detail, like remembering to make sure the boys have shoes on their feet before they board the bus for school, mayhem and chaos will (and does) ensue.
While out of town, we will call each other several times a day, catching each other up on our day’s events. The pattern is always pretty much the same – during the first 24 hours all the boys will tell me how smooth everything is going, how much fun they are having, how well everyone is getting along, how well-behaved they are, and that everything is great with me gone. Part of this is because Mackdaddy Mike’s definition of a well-balanced meal includes Mountain Dew, red Doritos, blue Doritos (nutritionists are always saying include the colors of the rainbow, aren’t they?), and Oreos (what kid wouldn’t think this is awesome?!). But, after about 24 hours, the sugar/artificial food high starts to wear off, reality sets in, and the calls begin to include the question, “When are you coming home again, Mom?” 😉 Meanwhile, I smile on the other end of the line and reply, “I’m not sure, I kinda like it here,” with just enough glint of mischief in my voice that the littlest guy gets a tad nervous.
Now, don’t get me wrong … I do really do miss my family, their goofy boy antics, and love them dearly (I know – you can sense the “but” coming), but … (guilty pleasure warning —) I do revel in
finally having a bathroom to myself without someone walking in, and a bed that I can sleep in diagonally if I want to. I mean, at home, I can’t remember the last time I was able to use the bathroom for even 30 seconds without someone (or somedog) deciding they needed to come see me at that exact moment or they would absolutely implode (um, no- I am not exaggerating). And our bed – well, that more closely resembles a clown car than a sleeping location – with the boys dropping in throughout the night and the littlest dogs snuggling under the comforter for warmth (the big guy, Finn (a black German Shepherd), just likes to sleep on the floor on my side of the bed, creating an obstacle course for my late night bathroom runs (trying not to step on him is like trying to avoid land mines as you can’t see him AT ALL in the dark) … and yes, the dogs follow me there too, so I still don’t get to be there alone …). And God forbid if I even have a fingernail cross over the middle of the bed to Mackdaddy Mike’s side! His sleeping persona more closely resembles “The Princess and the Pea” when it comes to his inability to sleep if there is the slightest disturbance on his side of the bed. And don’t even get me started on the fan that has to be running all night long, blowing ice cold air across the bed in order for him to be able to sleep …
Back at my hotel lodging, I unpack my suitcase, leaving every girly-makeup-cosmetic cream item I can find in my bags ALL OVER the bathroom counter, a luxury I cannot do at home unless of course I want to see my seven-year-old testing out how many uses he can find for my mascara. Then, I find every pillow, even the extra ones they hide in the closest, and create my “nest” on the bed I have selected (if there are two in the room). Once the day’s events are over, I hunker down in my nest in the CENTER of the bed, remote in hand, writing materials on my lap, and let my bed-hogging begin! Just like my boys at home, this is fun for the first 24 hours (OK – maybe 48 hours …), but then it starts to feel a bit lonely without someone to share my nest with. And I start leaving the TV on all night just so I can have the noise (hmmmm … having a moment here … maybe I like all those pillows because I miss the clown car at home…).
It is also during these short stints apart where we as a family realize our symbiotic reliance on one another. It gives us that necessary time, just the perfect amount, to acknowledge what we mean to one another. I may enjoy that bed and bathroom to myself for a few days, but just like their short-lived dinner bliss of Doritos and Mountain Dew, my life is not complete without those bathroom interruptions, or the clown car for a bed … and I happily return home, reuniting with my crazy tribe. In the words of Jimmy Stewart, “It’s a WONDERFUL LIFE!”, and I wouldn’t trade my wacky bunch for the world!