I can't say what exactly triggered it, but a few weeks ago I decided to take mermaiden
up on a long-standing invitation to visit and to go without Graeme. I hadn't spent more than four or five hours apart from my son since before his conception--nearing three years of constant companionship--so when Daniel said he thought I was making a rash decision at odds with all my previous parenting philosophies, he was right. I was tired and cranky and wanting a break, yes, but mainly I had a sense suddenly that it would be okay. Daniel wasn't feeling so sure and as the day of my departure neared, he scrambled to be ready for his big single parenting debut. He arranged to have our regular sitter come each day to spell him, organized lists I'd written of activities and foods Graeme likes, and quizzed me about where in the house I kept all Graeme's toys.
I had a lot of emotions as I left for the airport.
Irritable. (Why doesn't Daniel know these things, too?)
Relieved. (I'll have three nights sleep, alone, and days without anyone demanding anything of me. No little fingers plucking at me, nobody to schedule a day around, nobody to carry.)
Guilty. (I'm a horrible mother to leave a nursing toddler suddenly. He doesn't know I'm leaving and he doesn't know I'll be coming back. I'm a horrible wife to leave Daniel with the baby. He works for a living. I'm a stay-at-home mom and look at this! I'm not staying at home or being a mom!)
Daniel tried his best to reassure me. He was scared shitless.
"We'll be fine. We have to be."
"Go and have the best weekend. You have to enjoy it to make this worth it."
I've been on LiveJournal since raynemaiden
introduced me to it in 2004. Still, most everyone I've met here knows me as a mom. That's strange to me, since it feels like such a recent change to my life. I'm not a mom, people, I'm just a young witch grown a little older who is making it up as she goes. I don't know anything about kids, I just happen to have one of my own.
I didn't meet Sarah until I was pregnant with Graeme and in our meetings and vacations together since, there has always been Graeme and Daniel to compromise with. It seemed like, more than just about anyone, Sarah and Jenn knew me only as I was juggling all my other roles. I wanted to be able to be me with them, the me that isn't diluted and distracted, and that was only possible if Graeme wasn't underfoot demanding I be Mama all weekend. I guess you can add "selfish" to that list of feelings I was having.
So I left Graeme from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon. Rather anticlimactically, he dropped right to sleep that first night. Daniel kept me updated with text messages. And so, pretty much immediately, I was able to forget my worries and guilt and enjoy the weekend. My breasts were killing me, but otherwise I had no ill effects from making such a sudden departure.
The boys met me at the airport. I imagined there would be a big, tearful reunion. Graeme would throw himself sobbing at me, cling and hug me and say my name, "Mama", over and over again. Instead, he looked sleepy and disinterested as I walked up. He didn't reach for me, he didn't say anything, and when I kissed his cheek he shyly edged away. The rest of the day, I tried not to feel hurt as he ignored me in favor of his toys, his television shows, and his adventures at the park. It seemed like he was weaned, too, as he showed no interest in nursing. It was good, obviously, because I'd be able to go out of town without him again. He hadn't suffered my absence and my hurt feelings were really nothing compared to that blessing. That night, as I carried him home asleep from the park, I couldn't get over how much he'd grown and changed in those few days. It seemed like our close mama/baby relationship had come to an end. He was so much bigger, too. I'd have to buy him a new pair of shoes.
I carried him up to bed. As I laid him down, he awoke in a sleepy panic, reached his arms up to me, and started to cry. "Mama! Mama! Mama! Na-Na. Na-Na-Na. Na-Na." So I scooped him up and he nursed himself into a heavy-limbed sleep.
As a surprise, and possibly because he's an engineer who can't help himself, Daniel recorded every activity of their days together in a timeline. There was also a load of digital photos he'd taken of Graeme and himself while I was gone, too. The timeline is cute because so much of it is spent in five and ten minute chunks. Graeme wasn't sleeping nearly as long as he usually does, either, and was watching a lot of television. It also seems that the boys were surviving on one noodle dish all weekend. Daniel said living with a toddler, entertaining them moment to moment was interminable exhaustion. Ha!( A few days without Mama. What were they up to? )
The best possible result came out of leaving Daniel and Graeme together for the weekend. I had an awesome time. Graeme did just fine. Daniel discovered that he could be a single parent. And in the end, Daniel said that I could go away again anytime I liked. Best of all, perhaps, he finally understands just how difficult my not-having-a-job can be. In the past he's said things like, "Well, you've got all the time in the world." Now he sees what some of the constrictions can be with a toddler around. Yes, I have time to tippy-tap on the computer here and there, but those are stolen, unpredictable moments. I don't have a job but I have work that is a never ending 24/7 without lunch or potty breaks instead. I finally feel free, appreciated, and understood--a heady combination.