I went away this weekend and left my baby at home with my husband (and without me) for 28 hours. This wasn’t the first time I had left one of my babies behind, but it was the first time leaving my youngest, Luke. I always consider this moment a milestone in a baby’s development (actually, maybe more of a milestone for me as a mother). Which ever way you look at it, it is a big deal.
Why is it such a big deal? Well, for the past ten months (actually 19 if you include the nine months we were literally inseparable) I have not left my baby for any more than an hour at a time. We have been together every waking moment and I have been his person (Grey’s Anatomy reference) all this time. Until the other day…
I left early Saturday morning to attend a women’s seminar about how to achieve a balance between work and family life. Afterwards, I met up with some friends for a bachelorette party and overnight stay at a hotel. Luke stayed home with my husband and his three siblings. I felt quite a mixture of emotions as I left my baby.
The moment I left the house I felt different.
I had no baby to put in a car seat. I did not have to go back in to the house a couple of times because I had forgotten his bottle, or my purse, or an extra diaper. In fact, I took all the things out of my purse (which doubles as a diaper bag) as I did not need them and it was three pounds lighter. I got in my husband’s car, which I have only driven a number of times because I always have the mini-van. There was no car seats or toys or crumbs or screaming children in the car. I had the nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. Oh yeah, my child. I was leaving without my child. It was a strange feeling. I began to drive and felt happy at the freedom I was embarking on over the next day and night. I deserve this, I convinced myself. Yet the feeling of freedom felt foreign, and perhaps a little mother guilt was mixed into the happiness. There was a tiny bit of anxiety too…would he be okay without me? Would my husband and children be okay taking care of him while I was gone? Yes, he will be fine, I reassured myself. Enjoy yourself! The feeling of happiness and freedom returned as I drove to my seminar. I have no-one to look after but myself, I thought. Awesome.
I tried not to think about my beautiful baby boy but as I entered the seminar there were women with young babies everywhere. Still struggling with mixed emotions, I felt free and grateful that for once I was not manoeuvring a stroller into a building or rocking a crying baby while trying to listen to a speaker. A young woman sat down beside me with a cute little baby boy and would you believe it, his name was Luke! Well, I thought, it could be a little difficult to get Luke out of my mind while I am at this seminar and just then my body ached for him. The feeling of guilt returned and I felt like part of me was missing. How could I get through this day without my baby attached to me? But I carried on and did what all proud moms do, showed the women photos of my children as we discussed motherhood and working and all topics in between. I enjoyed having lunch without having to stop and feed a tiny human in between bites. I went to the washroom on my own and didn’t have to put my baby in a secure and safe place until I returned. I helped the mother beside me by holding her baby Luke and it satisfied my maternal needs for a little while.
My feelings of guilt and anxiety about leaving my baby started to disappear once I hooked up with my friends and after several text replies from my husband reassuring me Luke was fine and he had everything under control. I started to relax as I enjoyed time at the mall, the hotel, restaurant and bar with friends. We celebrated our friend’s upcoming marriage and we had a lot of fun. Many in my group of friends are mothers and we allowed ourselves to let go and have fun for the night with no parental responsibilities what so ever. We toasted our friend, our friendship, and life in general. I had a really good time.
As I ordered another whiskey press, I watched the bartender stir it up. A little rye, a little pop, and a little water. The ingredients were perfectly mixed, much like my many emotions today. I had a little (normal) anxiety, and a little mother guilt, but I also had the perfect amount of freedom and friendship to make leaving Luke for the first time a recipe for a well-deserved, fun night out. After my first taste, I think I’d like another.