My parents gave me the best gift in the world.
For the past two days, I've had 6 glorious hours each day to go to the UU General Assembly by myself. I got to ride the train downtown and instead of wrangling children, I was able to just sit and observe the world around me. I watched the long stretch of businesses and industrial sites that line the train track whir by - many covered in murals and graffiti. (My favorite was a Diego Rivera-esque mural of iron workers that someone had spraypainted with the phrase "When you burn down paradise, you can blame it on progress.")
I noticed the glittering squares of compacted scrap metal at the recycling center, the thick patches of thistle weeds blooming misty purple, the woman in the seat next to me trying to hide three squirming kittens down the front of her shirt.
I was able to get ready by myself...no sunscreening or pinning down squirmy bodies to put pants on. I walked from place to place without 50lbs of children to haul around with me. I got to eat lunch with my classmates and feel like a seminarian again - an intelligent adult who can carry on a conversation and finish a meal without being interrupted.
In short, it was heaven.
When I got home the first night, I told my mom, "I really need to find a way to get more alone time. I'm such a better mom when I come back."
Then I proceeded to put my child in the bathtub with his diaper on.
It took me several minutes before I noticed the giant swelling mass barely clinging to his body. He looked up at me with an expression that clearly said, "What the hell, mom?"
So maybe I'm not a more alert mother....but a happier one.