The Freedom of Being Away

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We are moving! We got the house out in the woods, and the house got us. The plan is to move around the first week in February.

I’ve been pretty distracted with all of that, and the overwhelming details surrounding selling our sweet Minneapolis house. It is a very mixed thing to think about saying goodbye to it. E. has thrown up more there than I’ve ever thought that someone could possibly throw up. And I’ve cried more there than I’ve cried anywhere else.

I guess I should probably leave those parts out of the MLS listing.

The other thing that has been distracting me has been something really nice: travel. I hadn’t flown anywhere in 2016 and all of the sudden I’ve been on two different trips.

I got to go, just me, for a three-day vacation out to see Cedar. I flew out during a snowstorm with a name—Decima, on a small jet that bounced and swayed and had me praying like it was Yom Kippur. It reminded me just how much I want to be alive.

In New York, I stayed in Cedar’s posh hotel room with wall to ceiling windows and a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

We pretty much always have fun together when we aren’t with our children. We have satisfying conversations and laugh a lot. We like to do many of the same things on vacation, things that might not even qualify as things to do. Like sleep in, keep the room messy, and walk nearly everywhere.

I got to see Cedar play a show (which is why he was out there in the first place), and the only word that comes to my mind is this: beautiful.

Live music can be so incredibly mind-blowing. Because in our tenuous world, being in a room full of people who are sharing a collective experience—feeling something together—it has real power.

And, in the three days that I was gone, A. spiked a high fever and missed school (he’s fine now, thankfully) and E. came down with another tough respiratory virus. Again with the coughing, the throwing up.

E.’s incredibly loving and skilled nurse/caregiver, J. (and her giving husband) doted on her while I was gone. She was up multiple nights tending to her needs. And did I mention my mother, who slept in bed with A. while he was running a hot sweaty fever, just to watch over him. My dad cooked for everyone and of course, gave lots of love and school chauffeuring hours (no small thing, as it’s a 3-hour-a-day commute from their house) to the cause of our family.

All of this while I was out galavanting around with the love of my life, doing things like eating slices of pizza in a packed little restaurant at 1 AM on the Lower East Side. Wearing red lipstick and a dress with a little shimmer to it. Not a syringe or a feeding tube in sight.

Most of the time, while caring for our children, it sure doesn’t feel like a night out on the town together. So when we got to be just the two of us for days on end, we marveled at how easy it was, how calm and peaceful and honeymoonish it felt. We dozed until noon and then went searching for a breakfast spot around the time we usually put the baby down for a nap. We window shopped. We strolled, without a stroller. We did very little, really. My idea of a perfect vacation.

The night I got in, Cedar and I went to a sushi bar together. My flight landed after midnight, and of course, we got to the restaurant much later than that. We were up the latest that we had been up together in years (that for wasn’t for the purpose of keeping a child alive and well). It was magical to be out so late together for the sheer reason of savoring something delicious, for the pleasure of staying awake, to sit and talk about everything and nothing. And the biggest luxury of all: I turned my phone off.

Cedar and I sat and smiled at each other, like a first date, like before we had children.

We were, in some ways, happier then. Bright eyed, idealistic about everything. The studies are right about happiness, how it decreases with each child born. And especially having a child with so many needs.

But, of course, just like those studies report, parenting is also the most meaningful, otherworldly thing I have ever done. And, like most parents, I wouldn’t go back to a child-free life even if I could.

Although during that trip, I wondered, in the ways that a mother is never supposed to wonder, if I had chosen not to have children, if my life would have been better.

I know that late night sushi in New York would not, in the long run, make me happy. It would, over time, make me broke and satisfied, in a certain way. But the freedom of a night like that is rarer for us than anything right now.

It was nothing short of amazing.

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