After WorldCon, The First Day of School

For what feels like the first time in three months I am alone in my house. I can feel the silence wrapping around me like a comfortable blanket. Even more I can feel the absence of imminent requests. As a mother and as a business manager I live my life on call. Then today I ushered my kids out the door and knew that (barring emergencies) they would not need me again for six hours. Howard slept and then headed out to a movie. He does not need anything from me today either. My computer is full of neediness. There are social media sites to catch up on, blogs to read, and emails to answer. Yet I am aware that this is mostly an artificial need. I choose to skip catching up on facebook and assume that I’ll be otherwise informed about things that are critically relevant to me. I barely skim twitter and google+. I haven’t yet touched my blog reader. The things in there are longer and require more focused energy.

The silence in my house reminds me that when school let out I was in the middle of finding a better balance between doing things for others and giving myself space to grow. I put that on hold and need to return to it. So I’m doing the same thing I did all week at WorldCon when I had more things clamoring for my attention than I could manage. I made a hand gesture to the observant and trustworthy sources of clamor. It was a single finger upraised, meaning “I see you. I’ll get to you. Let me finish this first.” The thoughts on life balance subside and settle in to wait patiently. I have accounting to do. In this case the accounting is not just money and inventory. I must account for the uses of my energy and Howard’s. These calculations are not easily weighed against each other, except by feel. How does a week full of sleepless nights rank against getting to see Steve Jackson and Monica Stephens every day? How does feeling ill on the night of the Hugos measure up to having David Brin stop by our booth to tell Howard he enjoys reading Schlock? And then there was the time that Larry Niven happened by and Howard was able to speak with him and gift him a book. The list of people I met for the first time is long. The list of stunningly beautiful, touching, dramatic moments is also long. I have to remember these things when I am so completely unable to be useful for business tasks today. The balance on WorldCon is overwhelmingly positive. I need to make records of this so that when I’m mired in pre-WorldCon stress next year I can check the balance sheet.

My children were delivered into my hands on Sunday, both tired and happy. We all made the trek home, traveling over night and into the morning. Then yesterday I walked with my youngest two through the halls of their new school. They bounced to their classrooms and spoke with their teachers. I did not bounce and any time I sat down I had to fight off sleep. Yet I was still able to feel that the place was good. I think that my children will do well there. I could see some of the small tensions in them relax. When they come home we will begin with establishing solid homework and bed times. I have hopes that after all my preparations for this fall to be difficult, it will not be. I might be more stressed about the whole thing if I had energy to spare. Instead I need to muster the brain cells to answer email.

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