Anyway, I went away last weekend. For three nights. For fun. Without my husband or my child. I know. Craziness. I've been away from her before, but only when Mike and I had a wedding or I had to go to training for work. This is the first time I've left her for more than one night just to have a good old time with my girlfriends. And yes, I did feel the obligatory mom guilt gnawing at me from the bottom of my stomach, but once I filled that puppy with Espresso martinis and lobster, that gnawing was replaced by another feeling all together. That feeling was "Freedom!" There. I said it. Staying up late, sleeping until 11:30 (are you serious?), and doing whatever I wanted to do during the day felt pretty amazing.
Even though I've only been a mom for three years, I have grown accustomed to the constant reminder of her presence. I always know where she is, what she's doing, whether or not she has pooped, if her hair is up or down (down- obviously), if she is wearing the Cinderella underwear or the Dora underwear (Cinderella- obviously), and even while we're both sleeping, it only takes one tiny "Mommy?" for my eyes to shoot open, ready for action. When you are a mom, you are always on-call, 24 hours a day.
I think that was the thing that initially freaked me out about motherhood. I had understood, of course, that this would be the case, but it wasn't until that first night in the hospital when Lost was over and I was ready to go to bed that I realized, "Oh my God. I don't get to just 'go to bed.' There is no "clocking out" of this job, no union to help me negotiate working conditions and personal days. No, there is only this very small and very unreasonable tyrant telling me I will never have five minutes to myself ever again!" This went on for quite some time. You've all heard the sob stories about my devil baby, so I won't bore you with them again.
But now, fully emerged from the baby fog, I realize that there is life after motherhood. That I can find the balance between my role as a parent and my role as a friend. This past weekend was about celebrating the end of single blessedness for my dear friend Alex, a girl I have literally been friends with for 27 years. Going away for the whole weekend seemed impossible when the idea was first presented, not because I didn't think my husband could handle Ella (he's always been better at it than me), but because it seemed like a lot to ask of him, and because, well, I am a mom now and moms aren't supposed to spend a weekend drinking booze and riding through P-town on something called a "Funk Bus" while their friend gets an impromptu lap dance by a stray lesbian off the street. Moms don't sleep until 11:30 and play Sexy Slang until the wee hours of the morning. But then I remembered that before I was a mom, I was a lot of other things, and namely, I was a friend who enjoyed the company of her girlfriends more than almost anything. This is a part of my identity, too, an important part of it that I want to cherish and cultivate, just as I want to cultivate the relationship with my husband and my child. The good thing is that these relationships have always felt stable to me, but it is the quality of those relationships that is tenuous. Partner, child, friend. I am lucky enough to have all of these things in my life, and I know that with that blessing comes an obligation to nurture these relationships every day. That's a lot to take on, but it's a job I'm lucky to have.
So, I relished the time with my girlfriends as much as I could, and when I got home on Monday, there was a smiling little person, no worse for wear, so excited to see me that she ran in front of my car, and I had to stop in the middle of the driveway, get out, and hug her. She wrapped her arms around me tighter than she ever had before and said, "I'm so glad you're home, Mommy!" She kept grabbing me intensely all week, saying over and over again, "I missed you Mommy. I missed you so much." And I took her in my arms, holding her little body against mine, and I relished that blessing, too.
|Ella B taking over my spot in bed.|