Due to the French Open championships this weekend, it seems timely to come to terms with something that has been on my mind for a while. It happened years ago, February 2004, in fact, when I left JB with two children to go to Paris with my mom, her sister and friend.
We play tennis is my family. While other girls may have had posters of Scott Baio or John Stamos in their rooms, (its was the 8os, no doubt), I had pictures of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Gabriela Sabatini. As a result, it only seemed natural to visit Roland Garros while in Paris.
Let’s back up.. as I noted in a previous post, (click <HERE> ), one of the most dangerous things my mother can say is, “I’ve been thinking…” because it usually means that we are getting on plane and going somewhere. Okay, so maybe not dangerous, really, as I have benefited a few times from her, um, thoughts.. but you get the idea. So she calls me in the winter of 2003-04 and says she found a super great deal to go to Paris for five days and wants to know if I will go with her. Her sister and friend may be in as well. I ask JB if he minds flying solo for a few days while I skip about Paris, eating crepes and drinking wine. He agrees. WOOT!
I had never been to France and did not (do not) speak French, so I bought some CDs to learn some basics of conversational French. I listened and learned while commuting to work and felt like I could reasonably get along in Paris. At least, I knew how to ask for directions, greet people and read a map. A little nugget for all those traveling to France – learn some French. Be polite. It goes along way.
So anyway, about a week before we set off on out little adventure, Mid became sick. Actually, alot sick with RSV. Any parent knows of which I speak. It’s a respiratory virus that you can’t treat with antibiotics. Mid, then all of 7ish months old, sat and wheezed. He had a fever. I was nervous about leaving the country. I took him to our (totally awesome) pediatrician. He made the diagnosis and gave me the treatment plan. I asked, feeling all sorts of mom-guilt, “I have a trip planned to Paris in a few days. Should I still go? Will he be OKay?” SO MUCH GUILT. Assured by the physician that Mid would be over this wheezing, feverish yuckiness within a week, I pressed on with the planning.
The day arrived for us to leave Chicago and head to Paris. I felt guilty. I had never left my children for this long and although I know that JB is perfectly capable of caring for our children on his own, I was afraid I would simply miss them too much. My mom continually offered me an out. I did not have to go, she understood, she is a mother, too.. all that. We boarded the plane in Chicago. I looked out the window. The plane backed away from the jetway. I started to cry. “It’s too late,” Mom said, “we are on our way. JB is going to be fine. You planned for every minute of every day. He is a good father.” I nodded.
So, to Paris. We had a blast. We did almost the whole city in five days. Notre Dame, River boat on the Seine, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Basilique du Sacre’-Coeur (highly recommend, feels like you are getting hugged by Jesus Himself), Moulin Rouge, Bastille, a bunch of other museums, a little art fair along the streets of Ernest Hemingway in Montparnasse..
And then Roland Garros, the site for the French Open tennis tournament.
“Do you think we can just walk on to the grounds?”
“Of course,” replied Mom. The gate was open so we wandered in. The site was much smaller than I had imagined. I had goosebumps. I was standing on the very ground where tennis greats have walked, played, won championships.. it was almost too much. We walked up to the entrance for Centre Court. It was just.. open. There was no gate, no lock, it was just open. The court was not set up and you could tell they were doing some construction. Nevertheless, we walked toward the entrance.
A delightful British woman came out of nowhere and greeted us. Or, more likely that she came out of the offices located on the right, but I didn’t see the offices until later. We were totally busted. I mumbled to Mom that no way we were going to be able to walk on to Centre Court. She mumbled back, “nobody is scared of a grey haired woman, just let me talk with her.” This made me a little nervous, as I am pretty sure that she offered me up to a French Police Officer in order to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as it was closing just the day before, but I went with it.
A couple of minutes later we were standing the middle of Centre Court at Roland Garros. Are you kidding me? The net was not up and there was construction equipment stuff in the stands, but I did not care. I stood with my eyes closed. I imagined a crowd and Chris, Martina, Gabby and I playing doubles. So cool. The British woman returned and let us know that we would need to get back to the public areas. As we left, I lifted my arms to the
roaring crowd empty stands and smiled.
We returned to the United States tired and pleased with our trip. I had a couple of bottles of wine with me a little Eiffel Tower I bought at the street art fair. All was well on the home front as well. Mid was over RSV without implications and Girl had barely noticed I was gone. JB took a much-deserved nap. I went through pictures with my daughter and showed her the stuff I had bought for her. Someday I hope to take the kids to Paris and show them the Champs-Elysees and all that is the grandeur of Paris. Especially Roland Garros.
So there. My last post was about how I have lied to my kids to get them to eat healthier. Today I tell you about the time I left the country when my baby boy was sick (and he will someday remind me, to be sure). I am glad that is out in the open.
Guilt? What guilt?