I’m sitting in Coffee Cultures in Kitchener, Ontario, savouring my first bite of this Caramel Carrot Cheesecake. Oh, I should take a picture of this. I should text Hubby about this. I should update my status on Facebook with this. But really, who cares?
And the thought occurs to me that no one in the world knows where I am right now. And I could step outside as I’m crossing the road, get hit by a car and die here. And no one would go looking for me as I’m here alone in Ontario. No one is expecting me home tonight. No one knows where I went when I rented a car this afternoon to tool around the area.
And it’s not that it’s important to check in wherever I go, but that it’s rare for me not to. When you’re a wife and a mother and a full-time employee, you tend to let people know where you are. This past week on a “business trip”, when that hasn’t been necessary, it’s felt freeing. But then after a couple of days of freedom, it starts to feel just a little less meaningful.
It’s not that I can’t be alone. I love being alone. People rarely believe me when I say I’m an introvert. True, I need people and energy around me in my life, but I get drained easily after socializing. As a mother, where demands for attention are endless, I crave solitude. And once found, I pull my laptop to me, write and write until I’m renewed, or if extremely indulgent, I’ll curl up with a pot of tea and a book. When I have hours to kill (another rarity) I’ll go out to a café and relish a treat, browse a used bookstore, or meander through a market.
I’ve done all these things now. Devoured two novels and a chick flick after busy and very full days of work. But instead of feeling spoiled, I feel a little empty. Cause there’s no one to share this with. There’s no one to discuss and debrief the days’ events with. No one to laugh at a tv show with. No one to reach across the table with a forkful of cake and see what they think. No one to cook a meal for or give a bath to or tuck into bed.
Last year I got the chance to spend a week in PEI – my first real time away from my husband and son. I left a stressed-out mess and returned renewed. I hoped that would happen again this time, but the need for renewal was not so strong. This trip, I’ve gained an appreciation. Of course I appreciate my dear boys, but to appreciate the role they play in my life and the role I play in theirs. To appreciate the interconnectedness we share that is an entity in and of itself.
I used to say that I write my journals in order to prove that I exist. For years I wrote and wrote without a soul reading a word. Then I began blogging and getting published and opened up the world of sharing my thoughts and my words with others and I can never go back. Because a relationship forms with readers that goes beyond the words.
And when you are in relationships as intense as marriage and parenthood, and used to sharing your life, you really can’t go back. I glimpse the idea of what it must be like to lose a partner or a child, and I shudder. It’s not only loss of the other, but of that part of you that was connected to them. You must have to rebuild your life, your identity, your idea of wholeness.
Despite feeling extremely whole in myself these days, I clearly feel the calling of my two beloveds - the call for mommy, the call for wife, the call for me to be more than me. And it is not about me satisfying them with my presence. It’s about me satisfying my own need to be needed.
Last year after my trip away, I wrote these words (that are now published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada!), and they still ring true:
“I had to travel across the country to find myself, only to discover that I needed to return home to be whole again.”