I dreamed on Sunday evening that I had mistakenly sent out two sets of e-mail invitations to Isaac’s sixth birthday party: one inviting a group of kids over from 11 AM to one, the other inviting a bunch of kids from one to 2:30 PM. Of course, in my dream I had actually completely forgotten about both birthday parties until I arrived at my house (an entirely different house than my actual one, by the way: some kind of rambling Gothic mansion that we had just moved to, so why not throw a dream housewarming party at the same time as the dream birthday parties? What a totally great idea!) and found it populated with a dozen rangy children and their judgmental parents. I had nothing to feed any of them except for some raw pizza dough, and nothing to entertain them with, so they just bounced around the Gothic mansion as its rooms continued to unfold and expand like we were in some video game. At one point in the dream, I hid in the pantry. I kept trying to dream-text Rachel, asking her to please get home already and help me out, but of course I couldn’t make the keyboard work properly, or couldn’t finish typing a message before being waylaid by another crisis in miniature, another wave of tiny guests, and so of course she never got the message.
All of which is by way of saying that I am solo parenting this week.
I am pleased to report that things have gone much more smoothly than my subconscious may have led me to believe. In fact, it’s been fairly easy-going. Rachel left on Sunday and returns on Saturday and in between the two what with school and soccer and playdates and the like I’ve barely seen my children. And when I have, they’re nothing I can’t handle on my own — it’s the usual joys and bumps, the getting dinner on the table and cycling through laundry and reading. I’m even managing to relax a bit, to talk myself down from the OMG! SOLO! PARENTING! MODE! I can sometimes get into, wherein I feel that unless I have premade five lunches and neatly lined up five casserole dinners in the freezer and laid out all the clothes and baked fresh croissants for breakfast each morning THEN WE WILL ALL DIE of the JUST! ONE! MAMA! Like it’s some kind of disease, instead of actually just fine with a few more or different details to consider, a little less sleep.
Like it’s not something that millions of women (not to mention a sizable number of men) —and I salute you all — do every single day. Get over it, Goldberg.
“Do you miss me?” Rachel asked me from the phone in her hotel room this morning. “It doesn’t sound like you miss me.”
And it’s not that I don’t miss her, it’s just that doing this stuff on my own, fitting in my work around the extra days of early school pickups and soccer practice and dinner-making and bedtime routines (and, of course, Angelina Jolie — on Tuesday I did eight CBC syndicated interviews in a row, commenting on the BRCA1 genetic mutation and what it was like to get tested for it. Eight rounds, five minutes apart, of going through that story, like some kind of emotional boot camp.), means moving from one thing to the next in a way that demands that I focus only on the present moment.
“It’s not that I don’t miss you, exactly,” I told her. Is it just that there’s not much space to miss her, to account for what’s not here when there’s already so much here to account for.
Two more sleeps, and she’ll be home. And I will be happy to see her when she gets here.