As I looked at the registration page, I mulled over the opportunity I was considering as much as the logistics it would take to pull it off. It was a two-day event, after all, which meant I’d need a full team in place to manage home base in my absence. I ran it by my husband:
“Hey, what do you think about covering me so I can go to a communications conference in May?”
Eric was watching TV at the time, admittedly not my best opportunity to engage, but I decided to take his momentary shrug of acknowledgement as a heartfelt “Go for it, honey!” I signed up.
You might not think that planning a two day trip, one state away, could have a person feeling giddy with anticipation, but there I was, excitedly tapping away as I filled in my registration information. This was, after all, no ordinary getaway – it was my first business trip in twelve years.
Although it seems a fuzzy memory at times, I was a media marketing executive in a former, child-free life. I didn’t travel a lot, but there were a few highlights. New Orleans comes to mind (oh the Hurricanes!), as does Chicago (a veritable Mecca for a blues fan like myself).
Now here I was, a dozen years later, a bounce in my step as I made arrangements to drive to Rhode Island.
I was actually booking a hotel room for myself. Just me. I would drive there alone, interact with other professionals for two days, enjoy an awards gala filled with marketing talent, sleep in a quiet room after having only myself to put to bed… Glorious.
I was leaving on a Sunday evening, and would be back in time to get my son off the bus on Tuesday afternoon. Not long, right? Honestly, at a few points along the planning road, I thought I might have to call in the National Guard to swing it.
Jumping on the logistics a good sixty days out, I arranged to have my father-in-law, Russell, come to the house that Monday afternoon to get both kids off of their buses, and to stay with them until Eric got home from work. Eric would get both kids on their buses Monday and Tuesday morning (he usually sleeps past my 6:30 alarm, so it would be a literal rude awakening). Then, I’d be back. All seemed set.
The Saturday before my departure, I began preparations around the house; making sure the laundry was caught up so no one ran out of undies (can’t have that on my conscience), grocery shopping to stock the cabinets, and typing up one of the two-page instructional memos for which I have become legendary (I am a Virgo, people, we can’t help ourselves).
But a new development had popped up. Once every few months, Eric’s company holds live events on Sunday nights which require him to be onsite at the office from about 5p until the wee hours of the morning. As luck would have it, this was one of those times. Now, instead of rolling happily out of town Sunday evening, I would have to find kid coverage to free me up. Admittedly a stress point, but my awesome in-laws immediately came to the rescue, offering to come by Sunday evening after my father-in-law’s weekly Bridge tournament. Russell also offered to stay over and help get the kids out the door in the morning, as Eric would be running on about three hours sleep at that point. (Not an ideal kick off to two days of single parenting.)
On Sunday, as I was preparing a meatloaf to feed whomever needed feeding over the next couple of days, I called my mother-in-law Harriet to talk logistics. Given the fact that they were now going to cover Sunday evening, I asked if she thought Russell would prefer I book a sitter for Monday afternoon. Eric tends to work late, after all, so it would make for quite a long day, especially for a grandparent who doesn’t regularly experience the after school joy of homework struggles and sibling scuffles. As it turned out, I was taken up on my offer because apparently my in-laws had double-booked, also promising to take care of my niece when my sister-in-law left for a business trip that Monday morning. My preemptive organizational efforts seemingly under attack, I fought off actual dizziness.
What did this mean for my kid coverage? I should say here that my in-laws are the best, and they would easily wrangle all three kids between three towns if need be; but I put my next call in to the babysitter just the same. She was available, and would come Monday afternoon and stay until Eric returned home from work. Monday nights are also late nights for him, I warned her, but she was game. As for his ability to function Tuesday morning after another brief night’s sleep, he was on his own to figure that one out.
I spent the rest of Sunday getting myself ready to go, pre-packing the kids’ lunches (dry food in the packs, cold stuff in the fridge, appropriately labeled by yours-anal-truly), adjusting my instructional memo to reflect the logistical shifts, and trying not to have a stress induced heart attack. When Harriet arrived at dinnertime, I learned that Russell’s Bridge tournament was running unusually late; he wouldn’t be there until after the kids were in bed. I immediately felt badly. My kids are, shall we say, a bit of a handful at bedtime, and I choose who to pass that mayhem off to with great care. I didn’t want to leave my wonderfully relaxed mother-in-law in a sea of mind-crushing chaos, and told her as much, but she waved me off. No big deal, she said, just go.
So I went. And whatdya know, everyone lived. The conference was fantastic and fruitful, I received triumphant texts from Eric as the kids’ schedules stayed on track, and everyone seemed to enjoy the time together. It wasn’t always pretty, but we all pulled it off.
Now that I know it’s possible, I’m ready. Hmm – where to go next…