I’ve really tried to look at the past week home alone as a rare opportunity to remember who I am.
In other words, to reconcile who I sometimes think I am (a pinot-swilling, bar-hopping, sparkly eyeshadow-wearing social butterfly) with who I really am (pathetic semi-recluse with far too much reality TV on the DVR).
I was sure that with ten days to myself, I would catch the last summer sunshine in Central Park, take in every art house film within subway’s distance, and do girls-night-out tequila shots in some East Village dive until 3AM. Instead, indulgences have so far been limited to chewing with my mouth open and reading blogs until midnight.
It’s all sort of reminded me of the kids that head off to college under the guise of a fresh start. “I can be anyone I want!” they proclaim, only to realize, one day with their feet up on the table at the student union, that you may be surrounded by new friends but inside not much has changed. Maybe you no longer have to avoid the mean girl who throws food at you every time you pass her and no one remembers the time your sneaker fell off in second grade gym class and everyone called you Cinderella for five years (sorry Tom J) but you’re essentially still you.
As parents we sometimes write about our longing for love letters and booty calls and how we wish we still had money left at the end of the month for uncomfortable shoes but desiring something isn’t the same as the desire to pursue it.
In the end, it would seem, I’m now a mom. Maybe even a mom first. And that momness stays with me even when my children do not.
Yesterday I learned that a beautiful little girl who lived around the corner from us was in a terrible, tragic accident earlier in the week.
She died. She was Thalia’s age.
The news struck me profoundly and painfully. I spent the better part of the day inconsolable. I didn’t have my children here to hug tightly or Nate to help me absorb the shock.
I took myself to a movie, dazed, swollen-eyed. (Two hours of Robert Downey Jr in an afro is an outstanding distraction by the way, if anyone is looking for one.) I returned home sort of at a loss, not quite sure what to do myself. Writing was futile, and TV wasn’t nearly keeping my attention. I started to clean the kitchen counter but that lost its appeal quickly.
So I did something I never would have thought a week ago that I’d do given ten days without children: I babysat.
Tony and Oodgie got a much needed night at the movies and Cheeky got a few hours handing me my ass at Candyland and showing me her big girl underwear. The wine and the adult conversation when my fellow grown-ups returned home was healing, but I think being around a vibrant, happy, energetic three year-old was more healing. Faced with death I needed to see life. Faced with tragedy I needed to read Valentine’s Day with Dora three times in a row. I wouldn’t have expected it. But I’m a mom now.
One more thing I learned about myself this week: I need to get in better shape. Duck Duck Goose can be a bitch on your knees.