Tomorrow morning I get to put on my professional clothes and go to LTUE. I’m excited to see friends and visit with other creative people. I’m looking forward to all of the panels in which I’ll get to participate. My brain is fairly bubbling with points I feel are important for the various panels. It is all good stuff that I am happy about.
However, there is also a voice in my brain which counts the cost. In order to go on Thursday, I had to arrange for one neighbor to pick up my kids from school and drop them at another neighbor’s house. My teenage daughter has been tasked with catching a ride home from a friend. I’ll need to plan an easy microwavable dinner for my teens to feed to my younger ones. I need to spend most of today on preparatory work both for the family needs and preparations for the sales table that Howard and I will run at the event.
On Friday I’m skipping LTUE because it is the day to discuss with my son’s counselor about scheduling his classes for next year. Except I may run down to LTUE just for lunch to visit, but I have to be back home in time to pick up kids from school. All day Friday I will have an awareness that people I love to be around are having fun while I’m not there.
Saturday I’ve arranged with a third neighbor to take my younger kids for most of the day. At dinner time they’ll come home and my teenagers will babysit for the rest of the evening. I expect to get at least two phone calls from kids which will interrupt conversations or dinner. Saturday night I will be happy and socially exhausted. I’ll want to be very introverted, but my kids will be ready to latch on to me and demand attention. The house will probably be messy. There will be crankiness. In the whole process I will have inconvenienced 8 people to cover things that I usually do.
For the next three days I will be split between family and business. I will swap between parent and professional. In some ways it is much easier when I hand off my kids and don’t see them at all for the duration of an event. Then I can pack away the home and family parts of myself. On the other hand it is really nice to have kids to hug each evening. They remind me that I have an importance and value which is completely separate from my professional successes and failures. I like coming home and having everything be normal.
Being split is getting easier. Each year the kids are older and thus less unsettled by me being absent. I can depend upon the older ones to help with the younger ones, who need much less helping than they used to. I know it is better, but it is still hard. For the next three days I will not be as good a parent as I could be because I’ll be conserving energy for LTUE. Since parenting is a primary focus most of the time, the lapse will not cause any long-term harm, but it definitely creates internal stress for me. Contemplating the stress, some small part of me whispers that it might be better to skip the symposium.
All I can do is evaluate events on a case-by-case basis. LTUE will be good. It always is.