Much to my mother's dismay, I left the house this afternoon without my blackberry. For two hours, I was going to be completely unreachable. I'd just spent the morning answering important business calls and emails while out with the kids and thought it time I gave them the undivided attention they deserve.
When I left the house sans blackberry, I was reminded of that thrilling sensation I used to have when climbing the library steps at the University of Western Ontario -- in the days when hardly anyone owned a cell phone (much less a blackberry). Fitness enthusiast that I was at the time, I refused to use the elevator to get to the 4th floor. No matter how many books I had in my humongous backpack, I always took the stairs. The library stairway was very remote. Pretty much completely concrete. I could always hear the echo of my footsteps as I walked up or down those stairs. And I'd always think to myself, thrilled, that "nobody on this entire Earth knows where I am right now or what I'm doing." It was a completely existential moment that I'd have every time I climbed those stairs. "Nobody on Earth knows where I am right now." Woohoo!
If you think that's bizarre, I can't really help you, except to say I was very young and a little on the intense side; come to think of it, my intenseness has only increased with age, and, of course, with motherhood. These days, those thrilling existential moments, alas, are few and far between. Or, at least..., they're different. I'm rarely alone. I'm always reachable. And, even when I leave the blackberry at home, it's really not hard to find a stay-at-home mother of two on the most beautiful day Toronto's had in MONTHS. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out I'd taken the kids to the neighbourhood park.
Yes, one of the defining characteristics of motherhood -- and probably the most challenging for me -- is that everyone knows where I am, all the time, and that I'm rarely alone. If there's not a child tugging at my pants, there's most definitely a cat on my lap, as I sit chained to my Macbook, to Twitter or Blip -- finally getting some of my work done or procrastinating, respectively....
Last month, however, I got the chance to go to Bermuda BY MYSELF for a friend's wedding. It was an incredible, life-changing experience. I felt lighter than I've felt in years because, for once, I wasn't being pulled by the physical or emotional weight of motherhood. I walked on the beach, toured the island, practiced yoga (with no one climbing on me -- to think!?), had a drink by the pool, swam, took pictures, felt the island breeze on my shoulders, my face, ran my hands along the lush, sun-kissed leaves.... Nobody was tugging my pants, and, much of the time, NOBODY ON EARTH KNEW WHERE I WAS. I tasted true freedom again.
As happy as I was to see my kids when I returned home, it was hard to say goodbye to the old freedom I'd rediscovered in Bermuda. Indeed, I found myself in somewhat of an existential crisis!
But, things are better now. I've readjusted. And I'm always trying to find ways to experience that freedom, or something like it, here in Toronto, with my kids in tow. Leaving my blackberry at home now and then definitely helps, or at least -- since my mother insists that I need to be reachable at all times -- stuffing it in the deepest, most clutter-filled, recesses of my diaper bag so I can't see that flashing red light (you've.got.mail).... I may not get to be alone as much as I'd like, but being completely present with my kids is a gift to them and to myself. And being completely present with them is actually quite freeing.
Besides, as my friends with older kids always tell me, a few years from now, when the kids are at school all day, I'll miss never having time to myself, the pant tugs, the constant togetherness.... I just have to keep things interesting, adventurous, playful and in the present.
Now, if only I could get this cat off my lap....
This is an original Canada Moms Blog post. Haley-O blogs at Cheaty Monkey. She swears one of her cats looks like Jean-Paul Sartre. She and said cat can also be found at her online art shop Kids Deserve Art: Art and Decor for Kids of All Ages.