I write from London Heathrow airport on my way to the International Film and TV Festival in Monte Carlo. The Big Bang Theory is nominated for a Golden Nymph Award (yes, that’s a real thing and no, it’s not a porn awards show as the name seems to imply), and our lead actors are nominated as well. Melissa Rauch and I are the sole representatives of our show, and our creator and executive director Bill Prady will be there as well. I am sitting in a first class British Airways lounge listening to the Maccabeats’ “Out of The Box” on my new Apple Nano drinking a mimosa. True story.
I will be in Monte Carlo for four nights and I return before Shabbat on Friday. I have never been away this long from my almost 4 and 6 1/2-year-old sons, and it was a hard goodbye.
The plan is to hit the ground running. After arriving and hopefully getting some sleep, Work Day #1 is a 16-hour (not exaggerating) series of interviews every 15 minutes from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and then everyeight minutes from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Then there is a cocktail party right after. The subsequent nights in Monte Carlo include other cocktail parties (for which I had to have my stylist prepare red-carpet appropriate designer outfits and accessories), some with the Prince of Monaco (wha!?), and the final evening in Monte Carlo is the Golden Nymph Awards at which I will be presenting an award.
It sounds insane, right? I know. I didn’t even know where Monte Carlo was when I found out I had to go. I don’t know if they know what vegan means in France; they sure as heck don’t at London’s Heathrow. I slept a bit on the first flight, catching up on some writing deadlines and starting a fascinating book called The Family, about revivalist and fundamentalist Christianity in America and its role in American politics. I also listened to a lot of Adele’s “21” over and over.
My publicist is with me on the trip, and we have a good relationship which I hope continues to be good this week since we will be together A LOT. I have a very close friend from LA meeting me in Monte Carlo (her work happened to take her to France this month) and I am really looking forward to having someone who “gets” me with me on this trip. Why? This stuff is hard for me. Red carpets, fancy jewelry on loan that adds up to the cost of many homes in America, tons of attention and being away from my kids: this is not going to be an easy week.
I brought some things with me on the trip to make it feel less lonely: my favorite body lotion, an essential oil diffuser with lavender oil, the bedtime Shema that I keep bedside, and a photo of my husband and boys that they surprised me with just before I left, them holding up a sign that says “We Miss You” with a happy face and a sad face.
Saying goodbye to my sons was horrible. I couldn’t help crying, and my older son looked at my tears with wonder and tenderness. I know he’s not “old enough” to fully understand the complexity of emotions I feel, but part of me knows he did understand as he clung to my neck and squeezed hard. As for my younger son who is late with words, he proclaimed that he did not want me to leave every way he knew how: “Me no like mama go all day” was the most thorough expression of his unhappiness. He finally curled up in a ball and clung to the shirt I had just changed out of, declaring he wanted to “go night night” with it. It was 2 in the afternoon.
I don’t envy my husband being home with 2 boys on any given day I am at work, much less with me half a world away. I know that they will be okay, and I know that there is no one else I would want my sons with than their competent, loving, and attentive father. I may sleep well without their bodies pressed up next to me, but I will not rest until their little bodies are next to me again this Shabbat, when red carpets and jewelry and cocktail parties with the Prince of a country I couldn’t find on a map are things of the past.
And one day, when they are old enough to understand what I do and why I do things like go to Monte Carlo for Golden Nymph Awards, I will tell them the very important thing I learned today as our plane touched down at Heathrow: Jennifer Love Hewitt looks just as good at 2 a.m. as she does on the red carpet.
As for me: not so much. But thankfully, they don’t care. Because I’m just their mama. And that’s all I need to be.