Paying the Price

I got a break. I should not complain.

I had a week off from mothering. A vacation from rushing about to get two little people from task to task. Seven straight days of being me, not being mama. By the end of it all, I missed those little girls something fierce. But I took full advantage of having a stretch of time to myself.
The conference was a success. The program I led (about arts and creative process) finished on a high note, filled with color and gratitude. I grew fond of my co-facilitators, made real bonds with some of the participants. Italy gifted me with its vibrant shades and textures. And though the departure could be likened to a breech birth – the confusion of trains or taxis, a mix-up of number of bags vs. number of kilos – I made it out, and made it home.

But then I had to pay the price.

It appears that while I was gone our apartment was hit by a fantastic tornado. The girls’ room was especially devastated; I hardly recognized it with all the debris. Books and blocks and doll clothes and little confetti-like pieces of paper and pens were everywhere. Loops of long hair in bunches had fallen to the floor in every part of the room. (Each doll had been coiffed and now wears a mullet.) The girls’ dirty clothes were rolled into balls and stuffed behind shelves and in the spaces between furniture. It was a sight to behold.

Returning from a trip like this, I must always steel myself before making that first step into the apartment. It never looks as I left it. You can’t really expect it to; nobody keeps your house the same way you do. But still, it’s stunning how completely anarchic things can get in my absence.

De-facto astutely anticipated the potential fall-out and invited our neighbors and their visiting family for dinner. One cannot throw a fit before such an audience. This is why there are doors on bathrooms, and why taps have cold hand_sestriwater for splashing on your face. They’d finished dinner, but saved plates for weary travelers (my mother-in-love returned with me). Another bottle was opened. My temperature descended. The banter and laughter around the table worked its magic. The wine helped too. By the time our friends left, I was too tired to care.

The next morning I surveyed the apartment with fresh eyes. You could tell those girls had a lot of fun while I was gone. They also had a lot to do later when they got home from school. Everybody paid the price for that week off, one way or another.

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