A few weeks ago I wrote this post about a fear of missing out generally, and a fear of missing one specific hand quilting workshop, in particular. And after writing that post I spoke to my husband, and we talked about life, and what’s important in it, and what our plans are for the future, and what my life’s been like for the last five years, and the end of all that was the swift, astonishing decision that I would travel to Melbourne, to travel to Lauriston, and go to the workshop with Felicia.
For the first time in almost five years, I left my children and I spent nights away from them. Two nights. And for the first time in I honestly can’t remember how long (ten years, perhaps?) I travelled alone.
How do I feel about all that? Two things: (1) I feel wonderful. I feel lucky, and delighted, and grateful. I savoured that trip in a way that I’ve never appreciated a journey before. And (2) I feel awful, because I very, very much want to do it again, and I don’t know when or how that’s going to be possible.
Oscar Wilde said – and I don’t quite know how he understood the female psyche so completely, but it appears he did – that “every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself”. I realise that both are a privilege, the feeling of taking one’s bag and leaving, as well as the experience of coming home and being met at the gate (of, yes, an actual white picket fence) by a waggling dog, two ferocious knee-level pre-schooler hugs, and a smiling, tired, true love.
I struggle to feel grateful for both – the home and the away – without desiring the balance to be different. And there is, it seems, no balance in parenting. (As I am fond of saying, it would be the best job in the world – if only you got the weekend off…). Perhaps over the course of a lifetime, you obtain a balance between being swamped by the fact and presence of your children, and being far enough away from them to miss them, but in the first, say, fifteen years that balance leans heavily towards the former.
At the beginning of the workshop we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves. My first sentence was something like “My name is Kelly, I have two young children, and I feel like making things with my hands is one of the only things that keeps me from going completely insane.” I didn’t overthink that sentence; perhaps if I’d reflected more I might not have chosen those words as my opening gambit to a room of strangers, but I’m so glad I did: there was an overwhelming chorus of “I’ve been there!”, “I remember those days…”, “Me TOO”. It was a pleasure to spend the day in the presence of others who understand. I went to Melbourne alone, and I found a place where I belong.