Did anyone hear a great sigh of relaxation at about 1:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon? I wouldn’t be surprised. At about that time, I was getting a massage at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa. All the nursing I have been doing really gives me a sore neck and shoulders (yeah, I have terrible posture and my nursing slump exacerbates the whole thing). My decadent massage kicked off a night away from everyone and everything. My plan: relax, sleep, and read for 24 hours.
When I first asked for a night away, Gadget Man didn’t hesitate to say, “yes.” I had done this once before when I was pregnant with Charlie and Eva was having sleep issues. Although I would have preferred staying in the city, I picked a place in Evanston to be closer to home. As long as I can walk to restaurants, shopping, and the lake, I’m happy. A couple of days before my escape, a girlfriend called to ask if I was free to go to dinner with a few girls. Although I love a girls’ night out, this wasn’t what I needed. “I’m free,” I answered, “but not for a girls’ night.” When I explained that I would be spending the night alone in a hotel room, she completely understood. After, all, she is a mother of two little ones too. When my parents found out I was spending a night away from home, they didn’t get it. They thought I was depressed again. It was tough explaining my need for a night away to a mother who sacrificed every bit of herself for her family.
Without my knowledge, Gadget Man had prepared the children for my departure two days in advance. When I approached the subject with Charlie and Eva, I was pleasantly surprised that they already understood I would be away from home for a little bit. When the time came to go, Gadget Man whisked the kids out the door for an adventure of their own so they wouldn’t be able to dwell on my goodbye.
I arrived early enough to buy some “guilt gifts” for the kids at Wild Child just before my massage. After my massage, I lingered in some of the shops on the way to the Orrington Hotel. Finally, sitting at the desk in my hotel room, I munched quietly on the giant salad I had picked up at Whole Foods, and sipped sparkling water out of a wine glass. After my lunch, I settled down under the covers with a novel from Sue Miller — Family Portraits. I promptly fell asleep for the next two hours. When I woke up, I turned on the television and browsed the movie selections. Then I paged through a few magazines I hadn’t had time to read at home. I phoned in my Chinese food order and bundled up for the walk outside to pick it up. I know I could have ordered it to be delivered, but walking around is part of the fun for me. I passed several Northwestern students, and wondered if they knew how lucky they were to be so young and so free to enjoy this Saturday night and all the Saturday nights to come. I considered stopping in a pub to hear some live music, but the mere idea that I could do it if I wanted to was enough freedom for me. I really just wanted to get back to the room with my sweet-n-sour shrimp and hunker down with a movie.
I was asleep by ten, and although I picked my head up at six a.m., I put it back down and didn’t get up again until eight a.m. Talk about well-rested! Since Charlie wakes up every couple of hours or so, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages! Next on my agenda was a long, long walk along the water with a cup of coffee in my hand. After my walk, I stopped into the Barnes and Nobel and stayed and stayed. I can hang out in a bookstore for days if permitted. By this time, it was almost check out time and I had to return back to shower (the tub was disappointingly small). Even though I was having a great time with myself, I missed my children and my Gadget Man.
When I arrived home, I was greeted by two smiling healthy children. They had survived without me. Even the house looked good. Following the hugs, the jumping up and down, and the “Mommy’s here! Mommy’s here!”, I presented the gifts to the children. “I knew you would bring us gifts!” Eva exclaimed. As I watched Eva grab Charlie’s gift from his hand and Charlie’s tears begin to fall, I turned to look Gadget Man in the eye and pleaded, “It’s OK if I do it all again next weekend, right?”