I just sent my ten-year-old downstairs with the information I am running away to Japan.
For the next twenty…or thirty…or however many minutes it takes for me to tap out what needs to be said…that’s how long I’ll be gone. And my family gets it.
It has been a freezing, cloud-covered, Minnesota-in-March day, and as much as doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the clutter and being emotionally available for the needs of the other four people in my house brings an overwhelming sense of joy…I’m just not feelin’ it today.
There are lots of days like this. This is motherhood…this is marriage…and this is my life. The truth is, I’ve chosen this, and I’m not about to simply walk away, so I’ve had to find a way to meet my needs within the life we’ve created.
I choose to find my solace in these few minutes of writing escape. If that’s not enough, I call in reinforcements of friends, and sitters and tell my husband I need space or help. My mini-trips are enough because I have worked to redefine what motherhood and marriage look like in our house. That’s the choice I made…and continue to make every day.
Do I wish I could make the choice to be in Japan for six months? Or Italy, India and Bali for a year? Are you crazy? Absolutely!!
Is it the reality for the majority of married mothers who want to stay with their children, and who vowed to stand by their husbands, that they can pack up and leave? Hardly.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate up the words of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and I am excited to read the tantalizing writing of Rahna Reiko Rizzuto in Hiroshima in the Morning, but there is a distinct difference between those writers and me.
Gilbert and Rizzuto were afforded opportunities of a lifetime to travel and discover themselves. Gilbert was already divorced, but invested in finding herself, and I have not yet read Rizzuto, but the previews explain that a six-month solo trip to Japan convinced her that marriage and motherhood were not what she wanted to be doing with her life.
Their work will undoubtedly be part of the continuing conversation redefining marriage and motherhood against the backdrop of the modern woman’s malaise.
We are sad, ladies. Of this I have no doubt. The modern woman is flailing with her role as a mother and a wife, and she is intrigued by the glamorous who have found a way to get out…to avoid it altogether and to carve out a life for herself.
I’m not out. I am very much in this marriage thing and this motherhood thing…and I know there are a whole lot more women out there like me than like the world-travelers who bring us beautifully-written and intriguing stories. I am incredibly grateful for the travel writers, but they are so unlike me, in so many ways.
Is it possible to find yourself in married motherhood? My contention…Yes, I’m living proof.
Is it easy? You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me. There is NOTHING easy about redefining yourself, and it is compounded when your definition is dependent upon the husband and the children who tell you who you are on a daily basis.
My journey is far from over, and I will likely come back to my computer, or a book, or an online conversation with a friend on the other side of the world tonight, because loving the life that is downstairs depends upon my mini-trips to somewhere else…
My introspective trip continues, without even leaving the country…but I will some day, and I can hardly wait to share that trip around the world with my husband… and our kids.
My book Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage is due for release March 2011.