I went away over the weekend. To mark my best friend’s 30th birthday, I packed myself up and headed out of town. Alone. It was the first time I’d ever left the baby for more than just a few hours, and I was nervous. I’d expressed four full bottles of milk for him, but still found myself reminding the husband (more than once) to just give him as much food as he possibly could. I couldn’t bear the thought of my baby boy going hungry.
Because I was worried my youngest son would miss me too much, I opted not to stay overnight. Instead, I’d planned to cram over six hours of driving into a single day. I’d have to leave first thing in the morning, and I wouldn’t be home again until late that night, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the good of my youngest child.
The morning passed quickly, with barely a moment to think about whether or not the baby was okay. I was in a hurry to reach my destination, and by the time I finally arrived I got all caught up in birthday wishes, introductions, and gift opening. The next thing I knew we were rushing off to the first event of the day. It all felt so busy that I almost forgot I was missing
We spent a good chunk of our day at The Chateau in Tongariro, where 10 wonderful women gathered for high tea. Everyone was interested to hear about my recent switch to the sugar-free life (have I even blogged about that yet?), and the attention and praise I received for eating only the sandwiches, along with good conversation and great company, were the perfect distraction. I barely noticed my empty arms and full breasts (probably because my cheeks were sore from smiling too much).
It wasn’t until the afternoon that I started to feel strange. We’d returned to the Birthday Girl’s house to have our nails painted, and suddenly I was almost the only woman who didn’t have her children with her. There were four other babies in the room, crawling and cooing and crying, all of whom were sweet, but none of whom were mine. When I looked over and saw one of the mothers nursing her son, my breasts leapt into action, leaking milk into the thick lining of my bra.
I kind of want to come home now, I text my husband.
You can, he replied.
But I couldn’t. My nails were bare. And we hadn’t cut the cake. And I still had a three hour drive ahead of me anyway.
Thankfully, the desperation to get back to my baby as soon as humanly possible faded away as the afternoon unfolded. I had a glass of bubbles (high in sugar, no doubt, but come on!) and selected a mint green colour for my mani/pedi. One of the women, Tineke, modeled a bunch of gorgeous clothing for us (she recently launched Tin Kup, a Facebook-based business), so naturally I got caught up in that, and ended up purchasing a beautiful white shirt with a black bird print. Turns out a bit of pampering, a touch of retail therapy, and a smidge of alcohol is all I need to forget my problems. Ha!
It had been a wonderful day, but by five o’clock I was done.
If I leave now, I thought, the baby will still be up when I get back and I’ll be able to feed him to sleep. Perfect.
I said my goodbyes, accidentally neglecting more than a couple of people I really should have spoken to before rushing off, and got into my car. I was determined to make it a quick trip home. I would concentrate as hard as I could so that I could stick to the speed limit and make really good time. I wouldn’t take a single rest stop. Even if I needed to pee. Even if I really, really needed to pee. I just had to get back to my baby.
My plan worked. Two hours and 10 minutes later I was pulling into the driveway. My driveway. I raced up the steps to the house, listening out for a crying baby. The lights were on, but I couldn’t hear a sound. Strange. I pushed the door open, waited for the loud shuffling of my son’s hands and knees scooting across the carpet, but again I was met with silence. What? I found my husband on the couch. Lying on the couch, to be exact, with a book in his hands.
“In bed. Asleep. I put him down at seven.”
As it turns out, the baby didn’t need me at all. There had been absolutely no reason to rush home. There were still two bottles of my milk in the freezer, and he’d fallen into such a deep sleep when he was put to bed – an entire hour earlier than usual, might I add – that I ended up waking him at four in the morning, just so I could relieve myself. My boobs were killing me! My son, 10 months old, hadn’t even slightly missed me. If anything, he’d been better off without me. He’d played. He’d napped. He’d taken his bottles without a fuss. And, according to my husband, he’d barely cried all day. Why isn’t it like that when I’m the one at home with him? What am I doing wrong?
It sounds ridiculous, but at first I was upset that the family had done so well in my absence. If I’m not needed, then why am I here? Sacrificing myself day after day for the good of the kids, staying home instead of getting started on my career or building new friendships… Is anyone even benefitting from my efforts? But, as I gave it more consideration, I decided that my son’s confidence and general contentment, even when I’m not around, is a sign that I am doing the right thing. He feels happy and secure because I have been with him. My presence has taught him that there will always be someone there for him, to keep him safe and happy, warm and fed. And while for the most part that someone has been – and will be – me, he obviously understands that there are other people out there who are willing to be there for him too. Even better, now I know he knows that, and that means that next time, I won’t be in such a rush to get back. As I just saw posted on Tumblr, worrying will never change the outcome anyway.
– Fern xxx
If you want to get an even better idea of how I spent my Saturday, you can watch it all unfold in this vlog…