The other day Stone suggested going away somewhere for the weekend. I was like, “Great! You mean you, me and Ziya go to the beach in Grande Riviere for two days?” He was like, “Ummm, no, I mean Zi goes by your mom and you and me stay home.” I looked at him blankly. “You don’t want to leave your baby,” he observed. I shook my head. “I only spend quality time with her between Fridays and Sundays, and they are precious. We’ll spend time together when she goes to university,” I suggested. He had definite responses to that, but in marriage you have parts of the same conversation over long periods of time, so I think he decided it was best to leave that discussion there.
I’ve only left Zi once before, to go to a conference. I didn’t miss her when I was gone, but when I got back home all I wanted to do was squash her pudgy wriggly self in a mama-bear hug. I might even have bypassed Stone at the door on my way to her. As I was leaving for the airport, I had him bring her out so I could kiss her goodbye and then turned around to get in the car—almost forgetting to give him a goodbye kiss too. I used to be a super girlfriend on all fronts. I was busy, low-maintenance, fun and had time to hang out. I’m still busy and low-maintenance, but I’m exhausted all the time and less up for late, late-night fun. Sometimes I say to Stone that I used to have a boyfriend (meaning him) who would make me “live DJ mixes” and spin for me personally, and he’ll respond, “I won’t bring up what my girlfriend (meaning me) used to do.” I like to leave that discussion there.
Anyway, Zi is now by her grandmother, who is overjoyed to be spending her first full night with her, and have her all to herself. We think she has no idea what she’s volunteered for and will be staggering to the door tomorrow, far from recovered from the up-every-two-three-hours hell that Zi, all sleepy and cuddly, nonetheless puts us through. Tonight, then, an anniversary, will be our first full night without the baby and I’m fascinated to see how it will turn out. We will end up home no doubt, both trying to stay awake, imagining we are hearing her cry in the bedroom when she’s clearly left the building.
Parenthood. You can never go back. All of it—the nights when you finally figure out how to be a mother to this little one and the nights when you figure out how to be yourself when she’s not there—brings lessons for me. These lessons seem obvious. Women, mothers, do this every day; but for me, tonight is yet another practice step as I continue to find my own, individual way.