Today I am leaving for my first night away, by myself, since my kids were born. I am thrilled, nervous, sad, anxious and elated all at once; I feel like a caged animal being released into the wild.
I’ve dreamed about this day for almost four years. Anyone with little kids probably knows the dream I’m talking about. It’s the one wherein I wake up at the same time every morning, shower, go to work, come home, have a glass of wine with dinner, go to bed, and repeat. You know, monotony. When you wake up every day to the complete mystery of whether you’ll be raising friendly, civilized human children, or angry, rabid ferrets, a little predictability goes a long way.
Of course, what makes that fantasy life particularly appealing is the fact that I could, at a moment’s notice, break that monotony and do something completely crazy like go to a movie or call in sick to work so I could lay in bed all day watching the second season of Orange Is The New Black. It’s not entirely surprising that I don’t have a real job!
I replay my delicious fantasy over and over while my kids use my shirt as a tissue and my iPhone as a chew toy, but at the end of the day it’s just that: a fantasy. There is a part of me that knows I have about as much chance of indulging myself with such a treat as a domesticated animal has of sprouting wings and flying away, at least for the next 15 years.
Except today I am flying across the country to my very first blogging conference. By myself. Without my kids. I am a mom gone wild.
I’m excited and nervous because, like an animal that has been around humans too long, I have no idea how to behave in a room full of strangers. At least not ones for whom jangling keys or animated discussions about Disney characters won’t win me any favors. It dawned on me this morning that this will be the first time I’ve socialized in years without my children to hide behind. If someone asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to or don’t want to answer, I can’t just pretend to smell a poopy diaper and retreat.
I thought freedom from my family would be liberating, but in fact, it has me feeling more inhibited than ever.
When animals are first released back into the wild after a long time in captivity, they sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to life with their own kind. The other animals don’t know what to make of the newcomers: their behavior is strange, they smell funky, and most of the time they’re cowering in the corner of their open cage. I am that animal, and I am both terrified and in awe of the weekend I’m about to spend in the wild.
In anticipation of my adjustment issues, I would like to apologize in advance for the embarrassing and awkward faux pas I will inevitably make this weekend.
I’m sorry if I interrupt you mid-sentence because I’m convinced I hear phantom crying or smell phantom poop. It’s nothing personal, and I’m sure it’s not you I’m smelling.
I’m sorry if my clothes are covered in food stains. I promise I do laundry at least once a week, but I never realized that watermelon, popsicle, and peanut butter all stain. Did you? The Play Doh is probably still there because I’m too lazy to pick it out of my sweater fibers. Go ahead and judge me for that one.
I’m sorry if I subconsciously rock back and forth while taking to you. I don’t have to pee, it’s just a habit from spending the last year with a baby attached to my hip 12 hours a day.
I’m sorry if I randomly hum the song from Frozen. I’m worried my body will go into withdrawal if I don’t listen to it at least fourteen times a day. I’m pretty sure the Let It Go DTs are rather unpleasant.
Finally, I’m sorry if I have a stupid grin on my face the entire weekend, even during mildly inappropriate times like bathroom breaks and business introductions. I’m not trying to be creepy. It’s probably just a sign that my brain is overwhelmed by all the multi-syllable words and has shut down to reboot.
Remember, that this is my first time out of the pen in a very long time. I want to run with the pack, but my legs are still a bit unsteady.
Please don’t kill me and feed me to your young. I’ll learn.