Saturday, October 15, 2011

Past Deadline: Snack Lady Leaves Town

I got to go to a conference last week.

I say “got to” with immense pleasure because even though it was work-related, it felt a tiny bit like a vacation.

The conference took place in a hotel several hours away, and you know what that means, right?

Someone else prepared and served the food.

Someone else did the dishes.

Someone else made the bed.

Someone else did the laundry.

And I didn’t pack any clutter. There was no clutter!

When I go away, there’s a bunch of stuff that has to be done at home in my absence. You know, such as feeding cats and feeding children and making their lunches for school and helping them with their homework. I wouldn’t begin to suggest that I am the only one who ever does this stuff but, um, I am usually the one who does this stuff.

This is kinda sneaky (so don’t tell anyone), but I kinda like going away so that other people might notice that there is no magical fairy who does this rather unavoidable necessities-of-life kind of stuff. I have a funny feeling I am not the only mother who has ever felt this way.

On the first night I had some work to do, so I hunkered down in my hotel room with my laptop and got right to it. It was strange. There were no interruptions. No one asked for snacks. No one needed anything.

It was…quiet! (Gasp!) Blissfully quiet.

It’s interesting that I refer to the quiet in this way because the hotel is situated right next to Pearson International Airport (Toronto), so it wasn’t exactly silent. I could hear the planes quite regularly, but they were muted and muffled and the passengers were not asking me for snacks.

The whole next day was taken up by numerous instructional sessions and speeches punctuated very regularly by breaks for food. There was a lot of sitting and eating and herding and sitting and eating. It was good, though, because I learned a lot and met some nice people and ate good food and someone else did the dishes and no one asked me to get them a snack.

After about 12 hours of alternately sitting and eating, I hobbled back to my room. (My sore ankle enjoyed the sitting, but the associated knee protested against the lack of movement by snapping and grinding every time I had to walk a few metres. I am hoping it was just a fluke.)

My room was lovely and quiet. I watched things that weren’t SpongeBob or iCarly. At one point I turned the TV and the lights off and tried to capture video of the planes flying past my window to send home to the people who ask for snacks. And I read a book...with no interruptions!

I called home each night and spoke to people who seemed genuinely interested in talking to me (absence makes the heart grow fonder).

The best part, though, was the message I got from Groom-boy the second night, which basically said: “Lunches made, homework done, kids tucked in, three loads of laundry done, kitty barf cleaned up. Oh, and one of the cats is upset with you and is leaving surprises under your desk. All this being said, you have to come home tomorrow.”

Hehehe. “Some fun, huh Bambi?” I replied.

Upon my return children ran gleefully in the door shouting, “Mommy!” Then they asked for snacks.

The gift-leaving cat stopped leaving deposits under my desk, but has been seeking out my lap every time I sit down, even a few days after my return. This is odd because he tends to be Groom-boy’s cat.

Groom-boy has decided he makes better lunches than I do. I have decided if he keeps talking about it, the job is his. Girlchild is adamant Mom’s lunches are better because Dad put her sandwich in the wrong packaging – a sandwich baggie, not waxed paper. (Oh, the insult!) Boychild, the future diplomat, looked at us both and said he likes both styles the same. Smart fella.

It’s nice to come home after being somewhere where other people look after you. It almost makes one feel ready to start doling out snacks again.

Published in The Perth Courier, Oct. 6/11

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