Soloventure 2016 is upon me. I skipped out on skipping out alone last year because of a not-so-shitty 2-week family trip to Italy instead, and as some of you may recall my 2014 journey to Vietnam didn’t quite feed my soul the way I’d hoped it would. Which brings us to now, and I’m sitting in the Houston airport waiting to board my flight to Liberia, Costa Rica, where 8 much-anticipated and well-planned days of enlightenment and joy await me. The lift on the language barrier alone should eliminate most of the anxiety that plagued me in Vietnam. If not, I have exactly 27 Xanax. This trip also feels about two years overdue in part because the last two weeks of work have felt like two years.
These trips out into the world alone are necessary in no small part so that I can take back control over what often feels like a life built solely on obligation and responsibilities. Now that I have a student in the house, there are even more responsibilities (i.e. more paperwork, more being on time, more remembering to put fucking snacks in the backpack) put on us, the parents and specifically on me, the mother – you know, the default parent. The one with not only the most guilt (or is it just the most anxiety?), but also the only one who gets the text from the school requesting an updated vaccination record. Despite being a very engaged and supportive father and husband (oh, hey babe! thanks again for taking over while I sit here blissfully alone and blogging con mi mimosa!), Sean would have to put out a local news bulletin announcing my sudden and confirmed death before anyone in a care-giving role ever called, texted or emailed him first about one of our kids. Therein lies both the empowerment and the burden that every mother tries to square on a daily basis. At some point the greatness in being “the one” stops feeling so great and it instead starts to feel like a tired and annoying sandwich on the wrong kind of bread with the crusts still on. WITH THE CRUSTS STILL ON – OH, THE OUTRAGE!!
Did I mention we are thinking about having another baby??? Wait, whaaat?!!! Motherhood makes me so strung out and wrung out that I need to go away for a minimum of one week each year and yet I want to add even more stress to my plate in the form of a literal shit storm? Well, three kids probably equates to two weeks away each year, right, honey? Who knows what will happen, my eggs aren’t spring chickens at the ripe old age of 38, and maybe we’ll just adopt seven Syrian orphans instead, but one thing is for sure – somehow amid the chaos of our lives, I long for those sweet, innocent days of infancy and I have a major case of the kindergarten blues.
We are about 6 weeks in and I just got my first (of many, I’m sure) email from Kellan’s teacher confirming once more his unfailing insistence on doing things his way, come hell or high water. In the way that most of us think of a “good student” as someone who listens attentively, takes instruction beautifully and, above all, conforms, Kellan is not one of those. But I was. When it came to student achie vement, I sought praise from every last one of my teachers and professors and while I may not have been the very smartest in the class, I maintained mostly A’s all through school and I never colored outside of the lines, unless of course the teacher told me to. I was a conformist. The interesting thing is that as I’ve gotten older, I become more and more like Kellan every day. I often think nowadays one of my strongest traits is my utter disregard for social and professional protocols. Maybe it’s because I spent the first quarter century of my life trying to live up to the expectations of authority that I now find real joy in doing the opposite of what is “expected.”
I go to foreign countries without my family because it makes me feel good about myself. I spend my remaining precious free time how, where and with whom I want and not how, where and with whom I am expected to. I say no to things, people and places all the time. Sometimes I say no to my favorite people because the timing is wrong for me. On the other hand, sometimes I speak up and push my opinions on controversial topics in or outside of the workplace because it suits me. Sometimes my peers and superiors would prefer I stay quiet. In this way, I have learned how to be a bad student. Perhaps my own modeling is teaching my son how to be a bad student. My way, not their way. Of course I want my children to thrive in all of life’s settings, but I am also more confident and centered at this point in my life, doing things mostly my way, than at any other point in my life. Yet another conundrum facing this mother.