For the past three days I've been attending a work-related event in Minnesota, and tomorrow I head home and I AM SO GLAD. Even though the weather has been spectacular, the event has been (as ALWAYS) much better than I was expecting (although there was one brief moment at the final banquet tonight at which I happened to sitting at a table all by myself after it seemed that everyone else had been seated and I actually considered getting up to go pee and never coming back)(then a handful of the few people I knew at the event happened to come in THANKYOUPLEASE)--still, I miss everyone at home so badly. I will be so glad to get home, even though my day tomorrow entails two airplane flights, a few hours at work, a screech-over-to-the-school pickup followed by a hasty makeshift dinner from whatever happens to be in the fridge after my being gone for three days, a school meeting, and then a 4th-grade musical performance in which my nonmusical child somehow has a singing solo (which to my knowledge he has not yet sung, ever).
A few years ago, when I'd travel for work, I'd miss the kids in a visceral, physical way. I'd be sitting in a conference, starting to daydream a little, and imagine Helen sitting in my lap in her hot, sticky, gummy baby way. It was the most comforting thing imaginable (and it helped that it was only imagined, and was not actually accompanied by a real live child stage whispering in my ear and shrieking at inopportune moments and demanding to leave the moment things starting going well).
Now I miss the kids and M differently. Sometimes I get visions of disaster, but these mostly happen while I'm still at home, packing. Sometimes I miss them at night--but not always, because I'm usually completely knackered by the end of the day and secretly relieved not to have to nag anyone about brushing their teeth or engage in end-of-the-day conversation. When I miss them most is as I walk around--the waterfront here is beautiful, and I ache with the wish that they could all be here with me, experiencing it too. Or in the evening, if I'm not totally knackered, the hotel room feels empty and cold and I get furiously bored, despite the surfeit of books I inevitably bring.
So: tonight I am chew-my-arm-off bored, and tomorrow I will be snowed under with noise and needs and activities and people and I will probably look back on this very moment that I am writing in and feel a little bit wistful.
But not too much. Not too much, at all.