I always get a perverse kind of enjoyment out of the September week when Noel goes to Toronto. Having sole responsibility for kids, parents, and family in general tends to focus the mind admirably. Suddenly everything that can fall away or be put aside, does and is. Yes, I pay for it after his return, when I'm a week behind on long-term projects that gave way during the crisis. But for a brief time, it's clarifying to understand what has to wait and what must be done.
My personal schedule is unusually hectic during this particular trip, given my double-booking on Saturday that will have me trying to be at Hendrix College and on Petitjean Mountain simultaneously. And I will be scrambling far too much the following week if I don't make some headway on two items: the spring course schedule and a new lecture I have to prepare for September 21. But if I can get just a little ways into those responsibilities -- they don't have to be completed while Noel is gone, just started -- then all I have to do otherwise is prepare for each class period as it arrives on the calendar, be present when the meetings happen, make sure the kids get picked up on time and have their lunchboxes full when they're dropped off in the morning, and show up where I'm supposed to be with the right set of notes.
I'll be really glad when Noel returns and I can relax back into normal mode -- the state where labor is divided and I don't have to worry about being responsible for everything. But to the extent that his return will coincide with the expansion of my vision to include those items I was able to put aside, I know I'll also miss the clear priorities of survival mode.