"Can I help you with your bag, Madam?"
"Here, let me get the door for you!"
"Would you care for a drink?"
"Just let us know if we can do anything to make you more comfortable."
"We have an array of snacks, if you're hungry."
"Did you sleep well?"
"One double espresso latte, coming right up!"
"Have a safe journey! Take care, now!"
Ah, it was lovely while it lasted.
For a few short days recently, wherever I went people seemed intent on making my existence more pleasant. I was a business traveler, you see. I was dressed like a grown-up, I didn't have much to carry, and I wasn't trailing a line of children SEmD at least, not visibly (all mothers trail their children to some degree I think) SEmD and the world seemed to think it very important that I not be hungry, tired or in need of reading material. Was I comfortable? Why yes, I was!
The world's solicitude was lovely, even if it was almost certainly illusory. The world can't possibly care whether one traveler or another is having a nice time, after all. If I traveled more often, the rosy impression would quickly wear off. I know this because once upon a time I did travel a lot and became all too accustomed to the dehydration, fatigue, confused circadian rhythms and existential ennui that can bedevil the frequent flier.
But that was long ago and far away, and it didn't impinge on what felt like the very new pleasures of solo travel in actual grown-up attire. I began to feel that this was how life really was.
Indeed, like many a foolish person, on the basis of a few friendly comments and the genial processing I received at the hands of the travel industry, I started to accommodate myself to a sense of heightened status. There was more dignity in my stature. I began to exude a certain benign grandeur.
So it was that, as the taxi came to a stop outside our house when my journey was over, I emerged from it with sweeping gestures and a head full of nonsense. Was I the same person who had left a few days earlier? No, I was refreshed! Revitalized! Unburdened!
Filled with a charming sense of my own importance and benevolence toward all, I moved toward the house.
At that moment, the door burst open, and the first of several very sharp pins began to puncture the soap bubbles on which I was floating.
"Oh no, you again!" shrieked a daughter. She was kidding, but still -- pop!
Another daughter came to the door. "Oh, hi, Mummy," she said, as if I had just popped out to the supermarket.
The boy joined her in the doorway. He appeared to have grown another inch in the few days I'd been away. He said: "What's for dinner?"
Pop! Pop! Pop! I could feel the ground under my feet now. It was hard and cold. The smallest child came up and put her arms around my waist.
"We made a sign for you," she said, and pointed at a piece of paper on the front porch, which lay beneath a tiny vase of flowers. The sign said: "Welcome Home Mummy."
"Aw, you sweeties," I said, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," said the boy. "But what's for dinner?"
I laughed. Oh, I'm important, all right SEmD just not the way my excursion into the world of adults had led me to believe.
Meghan Cox Gurdon's column appears on Sunday and Thursday. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.