|To see the world with eyes wide open...to be a part.|
Well, Friends, it's time to put my traveling shoes back on: this time I'm taking a solo trip to New York City! Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Bus, Subway, Walking and Boat... planning on doing it all between now and next Thursday. Speaking at a workshop. Touring the city. Eating the food. Visiting the MOMA. Yes, this country mouse is taking her city adventure very full throttle. Someone in my circle issued a reprimand to me about my being a gallivanting mother. It was exactly the kind of comments that my former "June Cleaver" head told me for years. "You have young children, you need to stay with them: always." Or, "A good mother doesn't go off and leave her family for a trip, and never, ever would tack on an extra two days for playing 'tourist'!" Or, "A good wife and mother would never, ever go on a trip without her husband and children. It is too selfish and self-centered." Those comments/thoughts/beliefs kept me home for many years, whether as a stay-at-home mom or a working mother. I quietly, remorsefully, used food and shopping as a pacifier. Stuffing my face and home in distress and disappointment and then in active addiction. They played in my head, full symphony, for decades. And yet, for me, those statements are just not true, for I AM a GOOD MOTHER. A FABULOUS MOTHER. And an AMAZING WIFE. I am all of those good things, but I am MORE. I am Erica, a soul, a woman, an individual. One day, my kids will grow up and have their own lives and adventures. My job of nurturing them, of guiding them, will be over. Will I forever love them? Of course, after all, I am the forever mother, but my "role" will not be the same now for Bear that it will be in 20 years. And I am more than a wife and companion to my beloved Hubbs. I am more than my duties and obligations, and I will not "martyr" my essence to be someone else's version of an ideal. It took me a very, very long time to understand that principle.
If you're a mama, you know the difference between you, the mother, taking a trip and Dad taking a trip are two entirely different things. Dad packs a bag, gives everyone a big hug and kiss and gets underway. Mom prepares the logistics for kids, Hubbs, and herself, and then tries to clean the whole house as well. All the food prepped. All the sitters lined up. All the phone numbers and other needed info. On and on it goes. And usually, that means that, as mom, I do not start to pack my own clothes/bags until after 11 p.m. the night before and then collapse into a fitful sleep, hoping that I remembered everything.
This time, I decided to do it differently. Yesterday, I packed my bags, instead of cleaning the house.
Two whole days early! They sit there nice and tidy, ready for me to add any last minute forgotten items (like band-aids), but I am ready to go. And it is such a relief: a life-changing relief. I have been practically giddy with excitement since I zipped up that bright blue bag yesterday afternoon. One simple priority change. I put myself above the house being "perfect". I put my needs ahead of whether or not all the clothes got folded. I stopped trying to make the hole of my being gone less noticed by those I care about, by having everything I normally do "all done and taken care of" in advance. Reality: mama is going to be out of the nest for six days. That is going to make for some discomfort, but all will be well, and I am, God-willing, coming back.
So, what did I pack? Are you curious?
Well, my darling friend, Julie, stopped by and looked over my clothes and made a few lovely suggestions. She, actually, went beyond that: she even let me borrow two pairs of more NYC-appropriate shoes, two neutral scarves that will mix and match with my pieces, and an adorable deep chocolate CAbi coat. We put the LL Bean parka back in the closet. Yes, I know I'll possibly be cold, coming from Mississippi, but it is New York City, and a gal's got to look a "together" as possible (even on a tight budget)! I put back in the closet a lovely floral skirt that was deemed "off season". Later, I also pulled out an extra pair of pants and a more bulky sweater. Everything is able to be mixed and matched, so they were not really needed.
Here's the final cull:
- 4 sweaters (dark green, bright green, royal blue, and a deeper blue short-sleeved one)
- 2 pants (one dark wash jean, one ribbed, off white trouser)
- 1 printed knee-length skirt (black and white damask pattern)
- 2 blouses (one citrine, one red)
- 2 lightweight "layers" (one long grey duster cardigan; one signature embroidered fall corduroy coat)
- 2 camis
- 1 coat
- pjs (as warm as possible)
- red beret
- umbrella and flashlight
- underthings and toiletries
- Chromebook (because I will still be doing work, and it's easier than trying to do it off my phablet)
- phone (the lovely ZTE Max from T-Mobile) and earbuds
- food scale, batteries, and backup food ('cause that's what I do!)
- plastic "snack" and "sandwich" bags... for keeping all the little bits and bobs tidy
And it all fits in one carry-on and one purse! From the girl who took every single piece of luggage owned, including a tent, on her honeymoon, to now be the girl who is able to wheel around a big city for a week-long Fall adventure, this feels just great.
So, here's to adventures big and small.
Here's to putting priorities in perspective.
And here's to possibly getting that pile of laundry folded, now that my mind is at peace over "what to pack".