On the morning of the day I flew to New York City, my husband Geoff drove me and my suitcase to work. At 7:30 or so, as we were pulling up to the building - which is in busy, downtown Chicago - a street cleaning vehicle came up behind us. I had been planning to crouch in the back seat in front of Katie for a few minutes before I went in to work. I would have told her that I loved her, that I would miss her, that I would be back in a few days, that I was going on a trip, that I hoped she and her Daddy had a good time without me. I would have kissed her and hugged her and asked her for a kiss and a hug in return.
Instead, since the street cleaner was waiting, I kissed Geoff goodbye, poked my head in the back seat and kissed Katie goodbye, went around to the back to get my suitcase out of the trunk, waved to them both, and shut the trunk. They drove away, and I walked into my building.
I admit I was a little sad. I felt cheated of my heartfelt goodbye. I was afraid I was going to miss Katie horribly, and I was afraid it was going to be worse because of our hurried goodbyes.
But at the end of the day, Rebecca and I went to O'Hare and flew to New York. We met up with Laurie at the hotel. And then we had our adventure. Over the next few days, we took the subway, wandered through Times Square and Hell's Kitchen and Rockefeller Plaza and the Village. We walked and walked and walked some more. We went through Bryant Park and Central Park and the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station. We went into the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and the Waldorf Astoria. We ate Italian food al fresco one night, and we ate dinner at a restaurant at 11 p.m. another night. We wandered and shopped in the Village and Chinatown and Midtown. We went on the Staten Island Ferry and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We complained about our tired feet and endlessly consulted maps. We drank wine and we ate cheesecake. We had no schedule. We were responsible for no one but ourselves. And as we were doing all of these things, we were laughing and talking and being silly and praising each other and insulting each other and laughing some more.
And an amazing thing happened: I stopped feeling like a Mom and a Wife. And I was so happy.
It's not that I mind being Katie's mother or Geoff's wife - in fact, I love those things more than almost anything. But lately I had been feeling like the non-Mom non-wife part of me had disappeared. You can't get around it: part of being a wife is compromise, and part of being a mom is sacrifice. I love being Geoff's wife and Katie's mother anyway, because there are so many benefits. I wouldn't choose to give them up permanently. But just being Jessie for a few days was so liberating! I found out what I think I knew deep down all along - that the non-Mom non-wife Jessie has not disappeared - at most, she is in hibernation, waiting for the right opportunities to come out to play.
Despite the short goodbye, it wasn't until the plane ride back to Chicago that I felt a sudden heart-twinge from missing Katie. When Geoff and Katie picked me up at the airport, I was so happy to see them. As I watched the car pull up, with their smiling faces inside, I realized that my weekend had given me the best of both worlds: I got to go away for a while, and I got to come home when I was ready.
Jessamyn lives in Chicago with her daughter and husband.