I often think about how nice it would be to have a break from all my familial responsibilities for just one night. I dream of a quiet evening alone — no dinner to cook, no lunches to pack, no dishes to wash, no whiny pets to walk and feed, no toddler to bathe and put to bed, and no intermittent wakeups throughout the night to soothe said toddler, supply milk and coax her back to bed.
I fantasize about ordering Chinese food, opening a bottle of wine, parking myself in front of the TV and then heading to bed at a decent hour for a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I sometimes kick myself for taking such nights for granted back when I was single with nothing but a job and a bill or two to worry about.
Last week, I had a chance to escape and — much to my surprise — I turned it down without thinking twice. I’m still not sure why I did that, but it felt like the right thing to do.
The Coastal Courier recently won a first-place award from Keep Georgia Beautiful in recognition of our media partnership with local KGB affiliate, Keep Liberty Beautiful. KLB Executive Director Sara Swida invited me to accompany her to the Keep Georgia Beautiful banquet and awards ceremony Wednesday at Emory University in Atlanta, where I would accept the Courier’s plaque.
I happily accepted the invitation and began to look forward to the trip. Since I needed to be in Atlanta at 11 a.m., I figured I’d need to hit the road well before dawn to arrive in time. However, my publisher generously approved my request to stay in an Atlanta hotel the night before the banquet so I could avoid having to spend nearly 10 hours in my car on Wednesday. After I received permission, though, I realized I couldn’t do it.
I’ve never spent a single night away from Reese, although I’ve certainly thought about it. Of course, I was tempted by visions of a solid night’s rest, but the thought of not seeing my sweet daughter’s adorable, smiling face for more than 24 hours nearly sent me into a panic.
I couldn’t imagine not being able to tuck Reese in at night, kiss her forehead and make sure her favorite stuffed animal is situated right next to her. And how could I walk confidently onstage at the ceremony to accept the newspaper’s award without having had my daily morning hug? It was an impossibility.
So, instead, I awoke at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, dressed quietly and bid my little girl and husband goodbye before stumbling to the car, armed with a huge travel mug of coffee. As I approached Macon, the sun had fully risen. I thought about Reese at home, eating her breakfast and helping her daddy pack her bag for daycare. I took comfort in knowing I’d see them that evening — or so I thought.
The trip home proved to be an adventure, though. Due to a serious accident at the interchange of I-75 and I-675, the bypass, authorities closed all southbound lanes on I-75 and rerouted motorists. Before being rerouted, though, I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for about an hour and a half, never moving forward more than an inch or two.
Using my phone, I mapped myself an alternate route home and ended up taking Georgia State Route 212 East through Milledgeville and picking up I-16 on the other side of Macon. The delay and the journey through Georgia’s back roads cost me nearly three hours, and I realized, as I headed toward Savannah, that I probably wouldn’t make it home before Reese went to bed.
I was determined, though, so I raced on, refusing to stop for dinner and hoping the gas in the car’s tank would be enough to get me home. It was.
I sprinted through my front door around 9:30 p.m., hoping my husband had let Reese stay up past her bedtime. No luck. She hadn’t been feeling well, so he’d put her to bed early. My phone had died hours ago, so he had no way of getting in touch with me.
I was disappointed, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Afflicted with a cold and feeling particularly fussy, Reese awoke on her own just a couple hours later ... and again a couple hours after that. It was a rough night, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.