Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Identity Crisis -- Originally seen on parentsask.com

It’s probably safe to say that in the past two weeks, I’ve been on more planes than in the past two years. On the personal front, I had the good fortune to get away with my husband (just my husband! NO kids!) to attend one of my best friend’s weddings in Palm Springs; on the work front, I’ve been to Chicago twice for client meetings. Whether I’m traveling for work or pleasure, leaving home without the kids always prompts a bit of an identity crisis for me. It just doesn’t feel right to head out without an array of diapers, wipes, sippy cups and crayons crammed into my bag… although it is a whole lot easier to get through airport security without taking off a tot’s shoes or trying to cram a stroller on the conveyer belt!

While Des and I were away for the wedding weekend, we found ourselves a bit dumbfounded by the free time we had. It seemed surreal to simply sit by the pool instead of fielding flying tykes in the pool. It seemed unnatural to actually read the paper as opposed to just recycling it the way we often do. We found ourselves up at dawn each day even though our own early risers were thousands of miles away. We had really just allowed ourselves to slip into relaxation mode (we actually read the paper by the pool while having a drink!) when it was time to go home.

Needless to say, when traveling for work, there is no relaxation mode although, there are luxuries that I don’t typically get at home. Room service and an uninterrupted night’s sleep come instantly to mind. Regardless of why I’m away, the absence of our five “Lyons Cubs” is a constant presence in my mind. I am drawn to any new mom desperately shushing a baby on the plane. I smile and nod empathetically as I watch families struggle and juggle their way through security. I graciously step out of the way to let anyone with a stroller stride by. And I do all of this thinking that surely, these folks must know that I’ve been in their shoes. That I am a Mom too and that I have suffered the same travel challenges and indignities. Except that, of course, they don’t. They don’t have a clue who I am or that I’ve left five tots five and under at home. This is where the identity crisis really kicks in. Who am I? SuperMom? Jet-setting working girl? All of the above? Perhaps none of the above? Trading the diaper bag for the carry-on really does a number on my psyche!

As I write this, I’m on a plane headed home. The guy next to me failed to notice my rather impressive (if I do say so myself) screen saver of “Five Cubs in a Tub”. The lady across the aisle doesn’t know that reading Real Simple and eating M&Ms during takeoff was the most indulgent moment I will have this week. Possibly this month. No one realizes that these two hours before the plane touches down in New York represent the only peace and quiet I will know until I take off again on some future date. And they most certainly can’t imagine the scene that waits at home.

There will be a kindergartener who wants to talk about T-Ball. There will be a little lady eager to show me what she made in preschool. There will be one toddler who wants an “uppie”, one who brings me a ball and one who is too busy climbing the bookcases to notice I’m home. There will be a dog who almost knocks me over and a very tired husband who will be happy to have me back. And then there’s me. I will be as content to be back where I belong as I am grateful to occasionally have a break from it all. Now, if I could only figure out who I really am, I’ll be all set!

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