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I’m back from my weekend away
– which was not, by the way, a trip north to help a relative,
but east to surprise a girlfriend with a new baby. I had to throw
her off the scent with my blog, since she reads the dang thing.

I have to confess (and it feels so wrong I almost think I should be
telling this to a priest) that I had a REALLY great time being by
myself for 48 hours. I mean a REALLY great time. I was stuck in the
airport when my flight on Friday was delayed four hours, and I
spent the whole time reading. Books without pictures. And eating.
Without sharing any of my food. When it began to look as if the
flight would be delayed so late it would need to be canceled and
rescheduled for the next morning, I never once considered going
back home and was trying to calculate if I could afford the cost of
a hotel room at the airport. In my home town.

I refused to look at magazines on
parenting or family issues, doggedly selecting slick high-fashion
glossies that have absolutely no real-life application for me.
There was no dog-earing of pages with Toddler Tips or Fast Recipes,
but boy did I enjoy it. It was as if I wanted to go into this
parallel universe where I am the same me, but just don’t have
kids. Or maybe not even that – just wanted to recover a piece
of the Me Before Kids. Shed of the diaper bag and four identical
sets of snacks and extra band-aids and hand sanitizer and emergency
books to read and extra underpants, I truly felt ten pounds lighter
and immeasurably cooler.

It’s not as if I was trying to avoid children all weekend;
after all, my girlfriend’s got a four-year-old and a
four-week-old, and I was going to help out. I knew there’d be
burp cloths and yellow seedy stools and playing with Thomas trains
and mini-meltdowns. But it’s different when it’s not
your kids, and I know you know what I’m talking about.

As I was boarding my flight on Friday, I saw a woman in line ahead
of me with a newborn carseat/toddler seat stroller. She had a
relatively new baby and a four-year-old, a diaper bag, purse,
toddler overnight bag, and activity bag – and she was by
herself. My heart ached, so I stepped up and offered to help her
get on and off the plane, learning she was sitting right behind me.
I walked with her, helped her collapse the stroller and carry the
gear, and chatted with the older girl while the mom dealt with the
baby. I kept the girl safe while the mom got the seats settled, and
charmed her out of the crabbiness that comes with trying to get on
a plane at 11 p.m. when you’re four years old. I wrangled a
blanket for the four-year-old, which made the mom burst into tears.
I totally understood where she was coming from, and how hard it was
by herself.

But then here’s the important part: I turned around in my
seat for take-off and slept the entire flight. There’s just
something different when it’s dealing with someone
else’s kids, not the least of which is the ability to walk

And speaking of sleep, that was hands down the best part of the
trip. (Sorry, Renee, the baby’s cute too.) In spite of the
fact that I didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m. Friday
night, I slept straight through until 8:15 Saturday morning. No
crying, no rocking, not even any crackling static hiss from the
monitors. That seven hours was the best sleep I’ve had in,
oh, four years. It was better than chocolate, and that’s
saying a lot. And the next night I knew how good it would be, and
hunkered down and enjoyed it even more thoroughly.

Brian and I are taking our first vacation since becoming parents in
a few weeks – three glorious nights at, wait for it, a hotel
near the airport. Listen, it’s what we can afford and as long
as we can impose on my mother’s goodwill for taking the kids
solo. But I don’t care how fancy the hotel is, as long as
it’s got blackout drapes and a “do not disturb”
sign for the front door.

‘Cause there’s going to be a whole lotta sleeping going


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