It was 10pm and had been a really long day. I was currently sitting on a cement bench at the Atlanta airport waiting for the hotel shuttle to bring me back to the Indigo, but not to sleep, only to collect my car and drive 3 hrs home. My yoga pants had a smudge on leg where I’d caught my kind bar between my knees when I’d almost dropped it at my gate in Detroit. My sweater smelled like the coffee I’d spilled while driving down the 401 and my seat mate on the flight from DTW to ATL who was so kind as to absorb all of the arm rest and part of my shoulder space in his attempt to get comfortable.
It was raining when I left Kitchener, when I had to refill the front tires of my rental car with air, so lets not even talk about my hair or make up situation.
He sat next to me and smiled. I smiled back and scooted closer to the edge, “Oh! You’re fine” he said. I, painfully aware of exactly how not good I smelled and how lovely his shoes were. (Shiny, camel coloured leather, really sharp with his charcoal pinstripe pants.) I stared at my phone and wondered if my face looked as greasy as it felt.
“Where are you headed?” He asked me, and we chatted a bit about where we had flown from, and where we were going. He had excellent manners and lovely eye contact. He was headed to a Sharepoint conference, and thought I was a little crazy to be driving home in the middle of the night. (I couldn’t disagree.) Which of course turned into a conversation about what we “did,” he’s some sort of computer something or other, and I said (despite my new job starting on Monday) that I am a “Stay at Home Mom.” He asked me to repeat myself. He eyes widened and his mouth fell open a little. “You don’t look like a Mom.” He said.
I was flattered. I looked at my Vera Bradley tote under my arm and my flip flops, my clichéd suburban mom uniform, and knew he was lying, but I was still flattered. I pulled up a family pic on my phone and showed him.
“And that’s your husband?” He asked. “Yes,” I said with a smile. As if the rings on my finger and my need to drive home in the middle of the night didn’t already broadcast my status. “He’s a lucky man,” he said. I didn’t tell him that, that “lucky man” had taken time off work to watch our children so I could go drink wine with my best friends in another country. I just smiled.
My shuttle drove up and I stood. I thanked him for keeping me company and wished him luck, then stepped into the tiny bus with a little bit of extra bounce.
I’d spent the weekend in Kitchener visiting my best friends and meeting a new little one. I’d looked forward to the trip for months. A chance to get away. A chance to be Meagan, and not someone’s mother or wife for just a couple of days. Of course, as soon as I’d left I’d missed them all desperately, but it was good to shirk my responsibilities for a few days. To eat at a leisurely pace, to not worry about keeping tiny ones happy, or fed, or clean, or safe. To get to stay in bed all night long!
But as I drove past the lights of Atlanta and away from the freedom of just being Meagan, and into the dark on 85 North toward my job and responsibilities, I pondered his comment. And the more I thought about it, the sadder I became to think he thought I didn’t look like a Mom, because that’s what I am.
As much as I’d needed to get away, to feel like I had value as a person, as me, and not as a only a cog in the family wheel – my “mom-ness” and “wife-ness” are important to me too. I’d be just as sad to lose those titles, as I would be to lose “Meagan.”
Since I’ve been home, life has been a whirlwind of preparing the babies and me for the changes that will take place when I start my new job next week. Willa will go to after school care, Redding is at a new all day school, I needed pants that you don’t wear to exercise, and shoes with closed toes. From 8am-5pm every day I get to be “Meagan.” I know that it is going to be tough, to find a new balance, but I’m excited that when I get home each night, I get to be “Mommy” too.