Photo: One of the few nice moments of yesterday. The boys discovered a crazy-huge worm in the front yard. In their excitement, they lost it to the grass. The ensuing search was adorable and interesting! Of course, they had a rough morning before and then had an afternoon of no napping and lots of tantrums… so…. you know…
As a stressed-out teacher a lifetime ago, I used to get up at 5am, be in the car no later than 5:45 and hit the road toward work. Not yet a master of parallel parking, and ever-impatient with my colleagues and their copy-machine use, I needed to make sure that I was the first (or second) body in the building. I’d get out of the neighborhood, get on I-93 south (which was more busy than you would think in such early morning hours…) and cruise while listening to the morning headlines.
Just before the breaks: Christmas, February, Spring, Summer, I’d have moments in the car. My work exit was right before the Expressway, which takes you straight to the bottom of the circle around the city, hooks up with I-95 and takes you to anywhere you want to go. My exit was, in my mind, the point-of-no-return. Boston in the rearview mirror.
In my moments of particular stress, as I would shoot out of the tunnel and make my way to the right-hand lane, part of my brain would start to wonder. What if you just kept on driving? What if you just chose to keep going straight?
Don’t you want to go south?
Or at least, get the hell out of here?
They were moments that always brought a little thrill to my heart. First-born and A-type that I am, to break so many rules with such a simple action would be catastrophic. I’d set the world alight with such reckless abandon. Who could do such a thing? Just not show up for work? Leave it all in one simple moment? Simply decide that you will be free of it all? That couldn’t be me. I could never do that. I’m just a little too chickenshit.
And besides, who would teach those students of mine their history? Nobody was going to be able to teach that history like I could. I couldn’t trust my colleagues to teach it the way it should be done. I had responsibilities and obligations.
So I always made the exit. Always. Until my last day, I made that exit.
I’m rarely in the car by myself anymore. Two little tyrants are with me, demanding to listen to the same 5 songs on my playlist (current favorite: Smooth Criminal. Killin’ me, boys.) and making observations about the millions of things they see out of their windows. We’re always going to the same places, I’m always worried about the same things.
But on those rare occasions, when the windows are open and the sun is out, and I hit those country curves at just the right speed…
I was invited out to drinks with three other preschool moms last night. They all teach, they all find the parent-culture at the preschool to be problematic, they were each fun for different reasons and I had joyful moments. We spoke about privilege and feminism and the things that make us cringe as parents. I had a single beer and took two bites of very poorly prepared lettuce wraps (and then promptly sent it away), and listened and spoke. It was a refreshing experience in so many ways: the good long shower to clean off the summer-mom grime, the care in putting my locs in a bun, the scrutiny of choosing an outfit different from my normal everyday wardrobe, the breezy feeling of walking to my car and away from my house with screaming children.
And on my way to those drinks, I had to cross a highway. One way takes you south into the city, toward 95 and all of the places along it where I could surely find whatever I’m looking for. The other way takes you to 495. I’ve always had romantic ideas of finding some hippy commune in Vermont…
Don’t you just want to drive away?
Or at least, get the hell out of here?
I wonder if there are other women who experience this. If there are other women, in the sweet quiet moments of any random day, who have a voice in their head that simply whispers, “go left instead of right today.” I wonder how many women feel more thrill than dread or maybe some guilt instead? I felt a combination of all three. I felt the tug of adventure, the paralyzing fear of the unknown, the guilt of the rippling consequences.
And my “check engine” light came on.
Because, clearly, God knows what I’m thinking all the time. He must have decided that I thought a little too hard about it.
I’ve no doubt that I do not have the capacity to walk away from my children. I cannot imagine severing myself from them under any circumstances.
So I kept driving toward my destination. Deciding not to go home because I really needed that outing. And I had an interesting time with three like-minded women. We spoke very candidly about the preschool that we’ve chosen and the culture of the school. I say “interesting” and not “perfect” because… it felt more like a competition to see who could be the more liberal, progressive mommy than a relaxed and natural outing of women needing a break. I suppose I just didn’t want to spend my whole night talking about white privilege and how to combat it in our households. And I didn’t really want to talk about books, either. I don’t actually know what I was looking for, but I can’t say that I found it last night. Square peg, round hole? Youngest person at the table (by 10 years) again? Only black person in a 5 mile radius? The reasons are endless, I’m sure.
My mechanic can’t see the car until Saturday afternoon. I was going to go to a friend’s yard sale to help out. That isn’t going to happen now. We were also going to head up to New Hampshire for a beach day-trip on Sunday. That might be out of the question now, too, depending on the problem and the fix. I want to be upset, but then I remember that we got a big break with that bathroom and the front yard flowerbed… and Ursa Major’s lead test came back this week with low levels (so we only have to worry about Ursa Minor)… So I’m gonna roll my shoulders, take a deep breath, and pray.
I promise I won’t drive away. So see you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.
(Bloggy question: anyone else hating the new WordPress post format? I have to manually put in my regular tags now and that is super annoying…)