My son is flying a pretend airplane, and I am riding along as a passenger. He calls back to me,
“Okay, Mama. Where do you want to go next?”
Tahiti, I tell him. Or Bermuda. The Bahamas, perhaps, or Hawaii. Somewhere warm and sunny, where I can lay on the sand and burn my pale Irish skin to a crisp. Somewhere I can dip my toes in warm water.
Somewhere far, far away from here.
We are in the deepest drifts of winter at the moment. The mercury struggles to rise into double digits most days, and ice forms along the inside of my windows. The sun stretches, rolls over, and falls back asleep without ever reaching the top of the sky. Wool sweaters, which seemed cozy and snug a month ago, are now itchy and smothering.
The world is a mind and finger numbing cold.
I feel guilty, these days that we are cooped up inside with each other day after day, telling myself that I should be relishing these moments. We should read stories, build forts, sip hot chocolate and fill up coloring book after coloring book. Instead I listen to the sound of the heater humming and pretend it is the ocean waves pulling me to paradise.
This is the part of the essay where I should talk about how I come to my senses and realize there is no place I would rather be. I should say that being at home with my children, day after day, is paradise.
But there are places I would rather be – at the playground, on a warm summer day, in college, going to one of those parties I never went to because I was always on the phone with a long-distance boyfriend, in the future, when I am an empty nester and travelling to Argentina, Ireland and Australia, in a coffee shop, where I can finally find some peace and quiet to get some work done.
Right now, I am in none of those places. I am where I need to be, where others need me to be.
One day, I will travel back here in my daydreams. I will wish for cozy snowy afternoons, and the sound of my toddler yelling, “How many more minutes until naptime is over?” (As many minutes as it takes me to finish this essay.)
A house full of cabin fevered toddlers might not always be my idea of paradise. But I will try to leave behind some good memories for the return trip.