Our trip was a success. The boys were stellar for Grandma and Grandpa. Pumpkin managed to not take his first steps while I was away. We ate. We drank. We walked. We talked. We saw friends. We ate and drank some more. For the first time, in a long time, I heard myself think.
Then, somewhere on H Street during day two, I found my stride. The hard concrete met my steps with familiar purpose. A part of me I haven’t seen in awhile snuck up around a corner and clasped my gloved hand. She was completely familiar and unchanged. She led me down side streets of thought I haven’t had the time, quiet or guts to travel down myself in a long, long time. I realized that I missed her.
And, *GULP* that I miss work.
My kids fill me up in places I didn’t know I had. I love that I have the opportunity to stay home with them and experience their firsts, explore their worlds and get to know them in a very personal way. But (and it’s taken me four years to get to this but), just like that infamous princess could not sleep on a stack of super soft mattresses because of a teeny, tiny, hard pea at the bottom, there is a part of me that my kids can’t fill, no matter how much I stack on top of it. Perhaps that pea has been present for awhile, starting as a small grain of sand the moment I started this blog and has been slowly growing, hardening and needling me. Perhaps I picked it up somewhere last week on memory lane as I remembered the best moments of my career.
While we walked the familiar streets of my professional life, I felt that little stone nagging in my shoe. It rattled around in my pocket. It settled in under my chair at dinner. Stowing away in my luggage, it came home with me.
What to do with my little pea now that I know it’s here? I’m not sure. I know I’m not ready to go back to work full time. I know that I have grown and changed a lot in the last few years. I know that I have gained a different sort of confidence about my skills, my priorities and the value of my time. I know that I have a lot of work to do before getting back to work.
Knowing that my little pea is here, however, has allowed me to take it out and roll its hard, cool sphere in my palm. The pea is no longer the nagging enemy in my shoe, but a beautiful opportunity.