Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When a mother of five goes on a business trip


I feel a refreshing sense of singularity as I pack for one.
One bag to check, and glorious independence - a carry on item.
A quiet contemplative flight. Browsing in the layover airport bookstore for "the Forger's Spell" or "The Rescue Artist". One about a famous art forgery the other about recovering Munch's "The Scream". Didn't have either so I resorted to scribbling on the second leg of the journey.
The reality of what I am about to take part in makes itself known as I hear my name called over the airport wide announcement system while I'm in the bathroom stall.
It tells me and perhaps a thousand others that my Driver is at the information desk by baggage claim. And it pronounces my name right.
After I settle into the black leather and some conversation, he says "God Bless You" when I tell him I have 5 kids. Then he tells me about driving Prince Albert of Monaco and I'm fascinated by all of it. Not 5-kid like at all.
He personally introduces me to the executive hotel staff, and security and wishes me well.
The room is modern, bright, well designed. And empty. Which for now feels fine.
About an hour in something twinges. I need to tie someone's shoe.
The cell phone keeps me busy with plans. Then with changes in plans. Then with talks to the kids. A talk to mom. A talk to my sister. (Of course to Jeff.) Then with plans again.
Then dinner out by the River Walk in the dry, dry blowing heat. I felt like I would eventually find the world's largest hairdryer that was blowing that unforgiving wind. Never did. I did think about the kids splashing in the pool the next morning at the swim meet I would be missing.
Dinner included some pals with SVP. And Martha's security guard who joked that I can't mention his name. Actually the former NYC cop wasn't kidding at all, but we had some fun conversation about his four children and one grandchild, about my 5 and we shared a hi-five when we uncovered that we were both teenage parents. Nice guy.
My bed was waaaay too big and the room was way too empty when I got back. I think it grew while I was at dinner. I also think the quiet got even more silent.
I sunk into sleep quickly without even thinking about the next day. Woke up at 5 am when I thought I heard one of the kids. Maybe I did. But fell back asleep.
Wakeup call. Without a word I brewed coffee that should have been made by Jeff.
I dressed without stopping to talk to anyone or spread butter on a blueberry bagel or apologize for toasting a plain bagel that was suppose to stay untoasted.
I got dressed and contemplated shooting a picture with the belt, one without the belt, emailing them to Juliana for a final decision. I decided against the email and the belt.
The big event went exactly as it should have. Martha was engaging and insightful and it was clear that she truly enjoyed the conversation and I sat in that chair conducting it feeling very out-of-body at the fact that I never got nervous at all. I thought about home a lot. I thought about my mom. She talked about her mom. I thought about mine. I love my mom.
A late afternoon whiskey-sour and spanish ham and cheese croquets at the hotel with my friends from SVP, I was already at home in my mind. After, I packed up in no time. Didn't have to check under the bed for socks or toys, though I took a final look anyway.
The delay in my flight granted enough time to think hard about the gifts for the kids. Its a business trip ritual. I don't think I can ever top the scorpion suckers for the boys up there.
My eyes opened to a golden headed little thumbsucker standing by my bed this morning. After a warm hoist up next to me we both fell back asleep. She got a pony princess tshirt. The other girls got tshirts too. Jeff got some bizarre Mexican goat milk caramel candy that Juliana sampled and okayed the minute she saw it.
I got a ticket home. And what a gift.


  1. So sweet. Exactly the way I think about my kids when I'm away from them. I'm sure they are glad to have you home as well.

  2. Very sweet. You think it's going to be easy and fun to get away and then you can't get your mind off them. Congratulations, sounds like you've arrived:>)

  3. I'm yet to leave my kids even over night (lack of opportunity!). I'm not sure I even remember what it's like to not be woken at 5.30, travel in peaceful solitude, pack just for me. But, I guess the main difference now is, even if I ever get a trip away, I'll never get a break from worrying about them.

  4. So, did they give you one of the Diamonds? I have a HV D1 that was/is so glorious just four short years ago, and then they go upgrading making me have hoop envy! What to do? Trade mine in and have payments? Anyway, I'm looking forward to the Martha embroidery design line. I'm all about that!
    -- Michele

  5. beautiful poetic post that gives us such an incredible glimpse inside that wide, deep heart of yours.
    your family is very blessed to have you...

  6. beautiful's such an odd feeling, the separation from our kids. Glad to have a break but missing them every minute.

    I still can't fathom the Martha interview...really? Just you and her? For an hour? If she didn't love ya before, she's got to love ya now! :)

  7. sigh. life is so good, isn't it?

  8. And that's why I love to read your blog - not only are you amazingly talented, but you very obviously love being a mom. Here's a "virtual hi-five" from another teenage parent, also a mother of five. You go, girl!

  9. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Very touching and beautifully written, Anna. Thank you.

  10. Oh my,
    She says with a tear in her eye.
    I love you too,

  11. You have such an amazing knack for capturing your audience with your stories. Such a wonderful gift among so many other apparent ones! And yes, I agree, those suckers may be hard to top!

  12. Anonymous3:04 PM

    I just love the way you write. So tru, all of it.

  13. I love how much you love being a mom--so sweet!

  14. Did you not taste the Mexican goat milk caramel candy? OMG..the BEST stuff in the whole wide world! If you decided that y'all like it, let me know and I can mail you more.

  15. Having three kids, I can appreciate the packing for one. Nice to know other teen parents doing the whole blender family thingy. And goat milk caramel candy does sound intriguing.

  16. What a wonderful gift- to be hanging out with Martha yet have your brain always lingering on thoughts of the really good stuff in life.

  17. I bought ant ones of those for my kids. She kept on until she could feel ant feet on her tongue, his is still in the wrapper and I don;t think it is EVER coming out!!

  18. I am glad you had a good trip~albeit somewhat lonely without your favorite people in the whole world there to cheer you on!

    Love the business trip presents as they seem so perfectly suited to everyones personalities!

  19. Awe what a neat trip you had!

    It's always nice to come home. I love how kids get excited about unique little trinkets!


  20. Anonymous6:13 PM

    What a beautiful post!

    Congratulations on your successful trip!

  21. Great post AnnaMaria. I'm glad you appreciate your children so much, many don't. I have three, always wanted more, you are so wise at your young age! :) Thanks for your little note back to me...I can't wait for your Seams To Me to be "out". I couldn't find a book that I wanted to buy at the LQS today. Take Care.

  22. lovely post- I had that feeling before when my previous job had me traveling- cool suckers can you eat the scorpions?? WOW that's crazy never seen them. so do we get to hear more about Martha & your trip soon? - hope so :)

  23. Anonymous9:00 PM

    Oh I love that {sniff} very touching- thanks for sharing.
    hoganfe handbags

  24. So sweet. So nice to go away for a while isn't it? So nice to come back home too. I am always a little relieved to not have to pour juice and always amazed how settled my mind gets when I am away. I am also amazed by how soft their skin is, and big their smiles are when I come home. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  25. Anonymous12:46 AM

    Your statement about how the bed grew while you were out, made me smile. I often think about that when I crawl into bed by myself when I travel. I don't like it much!

  26. Anonymous6:20 AM

    Absolutely sweet! A wonderful blog entry. You made me tear up. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Anonymous10:24 AM

    what a beautiful story, Anna Maria. I treasure my time alone and love travelling alone but when my nest is truly empty in August I think I'll feel as though the rooms are WAY too big.

  28. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Ok, so I am 30 weeks pregant and had a rough night with my 18 month old, but I truly believe that it is this post and not the fact that I am a hormonal nightmare right now that's making me get all teary-eyed. Thanks Anna Maria for the perspective that I need today! God Bless You!!!!

  29. Anonymous11:02 AM

    seriously sweet stuff.
    i am always amazed at how much i miss home when i am away, too.

  30. Anonymous1:11 PM

    WOW! It was fun to take that little journey with you!...pretty sure I'll never have the chance to take that one myself.

  31. Anonymous4:54 PM

    This is a sweet post and made me tear up. I completely agree,there is nothing better than home with your kids.

  32. Sounds like the only thing missing was a Prickly Pear margarita..... well next time. But take your husband with youto share!

  33. Years ago one of my first quited projects was a little wallhanging of a house and the sentiment "There's no place like home" signed Dorothy. Since my dear Mom's name is Dorothy it held a special meaning for me then and still does when ever I see it holding court in my brother's home. We are all so blessed with family and friends but its nice to say it out oud!

  34. It sounds like a wonderful experience! Is there anywhere that we can see this interview?

  35. Anonymous2:17 PM

    these are beautiful words, anna maria! xoxo

  36. Beautifully moving post. Memories from years past racing through my mind. Oh what I wouldn't give to wake up and see a little thumbsucker standing next to my bed.

  37. Anonymous11:56 PM

    Ack I love this post. You prove you can have it all. I remember going away for work, 1, 2, 5 days no matter how long, coming home to your family is the best.

  38. I am looking forward to hearing more about this!! My idol Sarah Foster was just up visiting Martha too. You are in good company! It is amazing what happens in life, isn't it? You are such a good example of someone who is not afraid to follow her dreams!

  39. This mother of four is feeling so guilty because I WISH for a get away ALONE! Your writing is so sweet, though, that I feel as if I just traveled with you!

    where do we go next? Let me get my bag...

  40. very sweet post - I don't have kiddos, but I feel this way about my doggie & husband when I go out of town for work.

    Jealous that you got to meet martha :)

    oh and the giant hairdryer - that's just Texas Summer, ya'll!

  41. Isn't it weird how once you are a mom, you are a mom every second of the rest of your life, no matter what else you are doing? But it's a nice weird-not a bad weird.

    And NO ONE leaves San Antonio without the Scorpion suckers!

  42. This is a very nice story - and a wonderful post!!!
    I love to read your blog,and also your design is so positive and colourful - you made my day!

    Greetings from Berlin


  43. Anonymous6:48 PM

    If the caramel-like candy you're talking about is "cajeta", you don't know what you're missing! I love it. I also love the way you describe your family life, and your love for your kids. Still don't know how you do it.

    XOX from San Diego