Monday, November 20, 2006

Lying in it

My childhood was one long independent study in Economics. As a practitioner of the dismal science, my mom's parenting style drew heavily on her professional interests. Television was limited to one hour a day, which as a kid I thought was just to torture me. Later I realized this was my mother's idea of an experiment in choice theory. Would I rather watch Mork & Mindy or WKRP?

Every choice is fraught; picking one thing means letting go of something else. To some extent, learning this lesson as a child only served to increase my indecisiveness. The longer I held off making a decision, the longer all options were open. The period before a choice is made is delicious and painful. Everything is possible, but by waiting too long I might lose the chance to make an active decision, as one or more possibilities go away. (cue the Rush)

But this is not a post about my refusal to make decisions. This is a post about a choice - the choice to go on a trip without Ada. This choice is really my mother's fault. The first year after college, Chris and I found ourselves far from our parents at Thanksgiving. A good friend of Chris's lived a few hours south of us and invited us to join him for turkey and stuffing. That first year it was just the three of us, along with our friend's housemate and a ferret. The main thing I remember about the housemate is that he wore some unfortunate cologne, which we smelled a lot more of than we wanted to because our friend's ferret knocked over a bottle the guy had left on the floor of his room. Other than that, it was a good Thanksgiving and we decided to do it again the next year.

The second year we were joined by our friend's girlfriend (Chris's and my ex-housemate from college), plus another college friend. Each year a few new people would join us. Some only come once, others come back every year. We drink, cook, eat, play cards, go for walks. When I read Lumpyhead's Mom's post about her annual outer banks weekend, I was reminded of my friends' annual tradition. We've been doing this for fourteen years. Each year it is a bit different, but every year I am reminded how much I enjoy seeing these friends and having this tradition.

When Ellen and Jiro, and then Chris and I, had babies, we knew that would affect our tradition, but we plowed forward, finding houses that would simultaneously accommodate sleeping children, trash-talking card players and drunken chefs. Last year we met on the Oregon coast, which made it easy for Chris and me. For years, two of the Thanksgiving friends have lobbied for moving Thanksgiving to a warm place. To my mind, Thanksgiving works well in a wet, cold climate, but after celebrations in Wisconsin, the Massachusetts cape, upstate New York, and the Oregon Coast, I can kind of see their point. One of my Thanksgiving friends lives in Mexico, so we decided to make this the year we venture south.

Although we could take Ada with us, there were many reasons not to. The plane flights, time change, sleeping in unfamiliar places. Oh, and the chance for both Chris and me to sleep past six am several days in a row. So I did what my mother taught me to, I made the choice to leave Ada with her grandparents. And of course I am feeling a little torn. The choice to go away without my daughter has me feeling guilty; for doing something fun without her, for leaving her when she can't possibly understand that I love her and will come back to her soon. It is all that normal parent stuff, the love mixed with fear and guilt.

Yes, a little torn. But I am leaving her with her grandparents, who love her and take great care of her. They love her so much and are so good with her that I should be worried that she won't want to come home after five days with them. And I know she will be ok. I've made my (warm, sunny, relaxing) bed, and now I have to lie in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. ah! i just emailed you to ask when you're leaving!

    here's how i feel about leaving zoe and lucy to go on grown-up trips: i miss them like mad, but when i return, i am a refreshed, soul-fed, laughed-out, well-fed, grown-up-conversed, quality-time-with-my-husband better mom.


    it doesn't necessarily make it easier to be away, but it makes it a lot of fun to come home! just try not to eat ada alive upon your return. it's so tempting.

    have a FANTASTIC trip. i hope it all goes smoothly and problem-freely.

  2. Not WRT your particular trip, but rather on the subject of choices-in-general - my mother was into that too, though not from an economic standpoint, from an educational one. She thought she was cultivating a sense of personal agency and free will. As you no doubt noticed when I stayed with you, I too am decision-averse!

    When I was rotten in school, in elementary school, there was one "sentence" (it was actually a paragraph) that all the teachers assigned to all the kids in detention. It went like this (and yeah, I remember it 25 years later...)

    "Life is a series of choices. The choice I have made has brought with it the consequences of writing these sentences. Maybe next time I will make a different choice."

    It's certainly become part of my life philosophy - make yr choices, live with them, learn to choose more wisely the next time - but now that you mention it I wonder if it feeds into my reluctance to make decisions. I might have to write sentences! There might be a better choice!

    Have a wonderful trip; Ada will be FINE. Seriously. And you know this, you do.

  3. Have a great trip, it sounds like a fabulous time!

  4. And, you are giving her grandparents something really great with her. And, her with them.

    Flip the guilt honey.