It's a pretty standard morning here in the Manatee household... the smells waft by from a questionably nutritious breakfast and Little Man wanders from room to room, bouncing between us like a pin-ball machine. Sunday mornings are for chilling and slow starts, although we have managed to cook and clean the tiniest bit and gave the geriatric wiener dog a bath (I can take no credit for that, unless my constructive encouragement-aka, nagging- can be counted). I listen to hubby soak in his bath down the hall and Little Man has rediscovered his toy laptop with a variety of annoying electronic songs. I don't mind because I love it when he plays with any toy instead of requesting the television that I dislike so much. Every few minutes, one of us will punctuate the air with the chorus from "double rainbow," the strangely addictive viral video on YouTube at the moment.
I live for these mornings, when we are safe together with no agenda but to simply be together. We'll go swimming at the community pool in another hour, provided Florida doesn't pull one of her bait & switch weather routines that she likes so much in the summer.
So, in the midst of this peaceful happiness, why is it that I feel close to bursting out in tears and having a panic attack? In fact, I feel bad even taking the time to type these words, like a giant clock is ticking and I have mere moments that I must spend as wisely as possible.
At the end of this week, the hubby and I go on an amazing journey to Europe. It's my first time, a culmination of over 20 years of longing. He has not been for almost that long after a lone stay as a summer exchange student in France. But he had a chance to present at a conference in Italy and that meant that most of his travel expenses would be covered from a grad-school travel account. After all the ups and downs in this roller-coaster of life lately, we decided not to surrender this chance.
So, for 10 days we will wander though Paris, Chartres, Padua and Venice.
It is surreal to me that this is actually happening. I've always been a brave and willing traveler and Little Man has known his share of hotel rooms and road trips. He's standing next to me right now, practicing writing on the little erasable marker boards that I mounted at his height next to my new home office. In between my words, I stop and help him spell and copy my to-do list (oh, and here comes another chorus of Double Rainbow).
We knew that taking Little to Europe would be too much. Beyond the money, I knew he couldn't tolerate the endless walking and the cobblestones and cathedrals will simply not hold as much wonder to his young mind. I was also scared to navigate an alien world with him in tow- how do I struggle to communicate and keep an eye on pickpockets with him? So instead he is staying with my mother. It's an arrangement that we are grateful for and I am sure that they will both enjoy... but it's also heart wrenching. Each of us has taken a few business trips since his birth and it was hard even then. I would imagine horrible accidents befalling one of us and it would be stop my heart for a few beats. But even then, there was comfort in knowing that he always had at least one parent with him should the worst ever happen.
((In the last few minutes, I have maintained a number of conversations, make some juice, and partaken in some wiener dog drama. I fear that this blogging concept alone will require me to construct some type of Unibomber-esque dwelling to hide away in. But I digress.))
So, now I prepare to travel for the first time without my heart, simultaneously living a dream and a nightmare at the same time. The paradox of parenthood continues to astound me. My carry-on mocks me, since it can never hold the most important element of my life. But we will go, we will learn. We will come back smarter, more adventurous parents and will forge a path that we will take him on when we return.
But my heart will be here and already I look forward to my return.