I went to Tampa last week. I've been traveling a lot. The first time I left the kids to promote the book, last month, my five-year-old said, "No! You can't go! Why do you have to go?"
I said, "Because it's my job. My boss wants me to."
I said this to my son even though I don't actually have a boss. But how can I tell him that I am generating this trip on my own? It's too awful to admit. Still, I am blindsided:
He says, "Doesn't your boss know you love us?"
I tell myself to ignore it. I tell myself there are nine million stories of kids saying the most heart wrenching thing they can say to their mom as she leaves for the office.
I get to the airport and I tell myself everything is fine while I bite all my nails. Then I wait at the gate while I sip diet Coke hoping I didn't eat so many Ho-Hos with the kids that I don't fit into my mommy's-working-now clothes. I am at the wrong gate. I read the seat number instead of the gate. I make the flight with seconds to spare.
I try to calm myself down on the plane. I tell myself that there is no way to support the family as a writer if I'm not going to promote my book. I tell myself my kids are lucky that I'm with them every day from 1pm to 8pm. I tell myself I'm lucky to be making a living as a writer.
I get to Chicago to switch planes. I tell myself that I am in better shape and that I don't have to worry about falling apart on local television because I am not falling apart now. I have a sandwich as a sign of body confidence. Or at least waist confidence; it's all about the button.
I hand the boarding pass taker my boarding pass and she says, "This is a flight to New York. You're going to Tampa. You better run."
I run. And I cry. I cry because I am losing my mind. I cannot even remember what city I'm going to.
In my plane seat I tell myself this can be the end of the book tour. And this is the advice I'm going to give you about successfully handling your kids and your career. Don't ever confess anything like this. It's bad for your career.
There is more, though. I get to the hotel, and you know what? It's clean, it's quiet, the bed is huge and it's all mine.
I sleep very well. I get up early, because my body clock is set to wake up at 5am with my two-year-old. (Please, do not post comments about how your kid sleeps until 7am and I should do what you do. Do not be so arrogant as to think I have not tried.)