It has been a week since we were partying out in LA, and man, has reality come back with a vengeance ;D This week has been a blur of unpacking, deadlines, and holding back the ever-impending mess of house clutter.
And yet I feel like my trip to the end of the world helped me to get some perspective on things. Something about hauling ourselves all the way out to the mountain-y craggy beach at Malibu, seeing the Pacific, and feeling so very small helped a lot of details to jog back in place. Somehow, a trip away from home tends to make home make more sense in the end.
To be more specific:
I realized that I have been WAY too busy since Norah has been born. In the hotel and on the road/in the air, I often found myself with only one thing to do at once, and I found that I functioned much better that way. I seem to have regained some of my short-term memory capacity (which I thought was lost forever) and I think I'm being nicer, too. You'd have to ask Ben if this is actually the case, but I believe it is. :)
I am beginning to recognize too-busy-ness as an inherited trait, and I have to actively choose not to give in. I think I have already mentioned here that I have cut back from teaching for two colleges to teaching for only one, at least for the near future. It feels very right.
I realized that I need time alone every day. I got time to myself each day of the trip (weird, right?) and I just sort of instantly felt like my old self, and I think that there is a connection there.
I realized that the past 6 months or so have been really exceptionally hard, and that it is all right for me to admit that and make positive changes for the next six months. I have possibly had some PPD, which changes the way I evaluate things.
Of course, all this hippie-dippie self-awareness comes at a cost. I am more aware of being tired now, so I can't live on caffeine and denial and stay up until 3am doing work anymore... at about midnight I am totally done. This is both good and bad, although I suspect it is more good.
-The best part of all was realizing how much I worry in my daily life, and letting go of that worry. I think that the prospect of flying two little kids out to LA and then driving ourselves around, meeting various deadlines, and wearing a strapless dress could have been the perfect recipe for a nervous meltdown, but instead the fear just faded. After the 101, I-10 doesn't look like much, you know? It reminds me a lot of the way I felt right after my bad car accident when I was 17. I realized back then that had things gone only slightly differently, my entire life could have been wrecked. Rather than making me nervous, though, this thought actually freed me. I realized that I could die at any moment, and so I could see no reason to worry and no reason not to enjoy life. The fact that I am here at all is so improbable, why not relish every moment?
-I am cutting back on the sort of hyper-communication that I would get involved in, on the phone, on FB, etc. I stand back and pretend that I am a couple of time-zones away, and things just don't seem like that big of a deal anymore. In a good way.
One small interesting note is that I think I may finally be integrating the "mother of two" thing into myself and my identity. I had several moments during the trip when things were just going inexplicably smoothly -- for instance, on the way out to CA, there was a moment on one of the flights when B and C were reading Curious George together and I had N balanced on one knee, eating oatmeal and peaches from a jar at 30,000 feet. No spills, no whining, no problems. I thought, maybe the inherent inconvenience of life with two small children has somehow made me immune to some of the hassles of traveling. Long flights used to make me want to scream and pull my hair out, and now I am just like, "Wow, 3 hours and fifteen minutes with nothing to do? And my phone doesn't work? SCORE." The TSA suspicious-liquids screening was kind of a pain in the neck, but it was no worse than trying to pay with a (oops, expired, let me get out the new one... do I have the new one with me? Hold on...) debit card at the grocery store with two fussing kids.
A lot of the goodness of my experience with the trip came from B doing so much with the kids, always ready to hold them, amuse them, feed them, etc., and of course being willing to drive us on our errands through the hideous end-of-days traffic in and around LA. It really cut down on the heinous trip-related work that I had to do, and allowed me to relax in what felt like the first time in... forever.