Picture this – comfortable chair, latest magazine, perfect heating or air conditioning as needed, subtle mood music. Just what we all want out of a vacation, right? Wrong, that’s just my dentist’s office.
I think of that scenario as I once again sit in a hotel lobby doing nothing while I chaperone my youngest daughter and her friends at an anime convention. Anime is Japanese-style cartoons. And people, including my daughter, pay for the privilege to come together, dressed as their favorite anime character and share anime-type activities with each other (I don’t get it, but who am I to judge?). I volunteered to be the chaperone for my daughter and her friends; honestly, I would arm wrestle for the privilege.
Like the dentist office, I’m sitting in a comfortable chair, the atmosphere is exciting with all the costumed people walking around, there is a coffee shop right in front of me, a power outlet right next to me and I can get WiFi for a mere $14.95.
I have done this before, so I am prepared. I have my laptop, books, and Nintendo DS. I have lots of water, food, chocolate and various snacks. One of the other moms helped transport the kids and visited for a couple hours, my cousin is on his way to spend a couple hours, and my sister and mom will be here this afternoon for a couple hours, so I have lots of company.
Best of all, I have nothing to do. I have no responsibility right now except to stay here in case one of the minors I am chaperoning needs me. There is no laundry to wash, meals to prepare, bills to pay, floors to vacuum or whining to quell. There is only me, here, holding down this chair and waiting for the day to be over – not that I’m anxious to rush through it.
I don’t even need to hang out with those I chaperone. They are not old enough to be by themselves at this event, but they are old enough to do the activities without me. I can sit here and guard their ever-growing pile of stuff, throw food at them during their drive-by eatings and drive them home when they are exhausted.
I think my kids were toddlers when I started discovering the joy of waiting rooms and lobbies. When you are a stay-at-home mom with little kids, there are not many places you can go to get a little peace and quiet. Even the bathroom is not a sacred place to a small child.
It’s an amazing feeling to sit in a waiting room and feel the noise drain out of your head. I used to tell my husband my dentist and doctor appointments were a half hour before my scheduled time just so I had extra time to sit and read a magazine.
Now that my kids are teenagers, I don’t need to get away from them as much as I need to get away from the house. They are at school all day and are often busy after school too.
Working at home poses all kinds of distractions like dishes and laundry and meals. If I’m home and writing, I’ll inevitably wonder what I’m going to cook for dinner. But when I’m sitting in a hotel lobby, even with the dull roar of anime convention participants, I never wonder what’s for dinner.
Usually, when I leave the house it’s to grocery shop or run other household errands. Even coffee with my other mom friends is riddled with the nagging schedule in my head. Seldom do I just get to leave and do nothing for hours on end.
So this weekend, I devote myself to my daughter and her friends. I can say I’m taking one for the team, but really, I’m responsible for six kids and there are four other parents attached to these children who would probably be willing to spend time here. So it’s as much for me as it is for the kids.
Yes, there is joy in hotel lobbies and dentist office waiting rooms,
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read her column every week on covingtonreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.