This is what my breakfast looked like this morning. I woke up at 7:45am, not to the sound of the raspy voice of a sleepy little girl calling ‘MOM! I want chocolate milk!’ or ‘I need my dad because I want my pants off!’ but to the sound of a dog loudly yawning and my husband sighing.
Our girl slept at my parent’s house last night. We go all season, for 8 months, without a babysitter in the same Hemisphere. So to live a few blocks from real, genetic, have-to-love-us grandparents is a total luxury.
I don’t spend many nights away from my daughter. Dave has been away from her for a month, once even two months, at a time when he heads to Japan. During the season he would be away from her for a week or two on road trips. I know he doesn’t like the separation, but he is used to it to some degree. As I type this he is still sleeping, peacefully, taking full advantage of the fact that she is not here screaming about what she wants on her toast or strumming the guitar wildly. And while I’m enjoying my leisurely morning, sipping tea that is actually hot, reading articles I’ve put off for a week or more, giving my dogs love love love, I’m also sitting her missing her. Wondering if she called for me when she woke up. Is her nose still running? Did she eat any fruit at breakfast? I’m sitting here with the freedom to do whatever I want for another couple of hours and yet I’m writing this.
The truth is that I do need this time away from her. When I don’t get it, we make it and we’re fine. But when I do get it, I feel refreshed and less tense. She gets the luxury of having her grandparents and her aunt dote on her. I get the luxury of not doting on her.
The other truth, the one that makes this confusing, is that I don’t want to be away from her. It seems like so many people and books and Today show guests are trying to tell me that she needs to be away from me, and we need to get used to it, and if she doesn’t want to leave me or I don’t want to leave her something is wrong with us. So they say.
But even if she never spends another night with her grandparents, even if I never hire another babysitter, she will be away from me eventually. Her friends will invite her over. She’ll go to summer camp (overmydeadbody!) and then she will move away hopefully not far away but knowing our family it will be very far away and I will wake up with all this time for hot tea but without the sheer joy of reuniting with her at anytime I wish.
I want to be balanced. And zen. I want to be doing it right even though I know there is no such thing. When someone who loves her and has had the proper background checks wants to take her for a few hours, for a night, I will let her go. Just a little. Not very far. But I am also going to admit that I don’t love it. I like it. But I don’t love it. I want her with me, near me, in a distance short a enough that I can smell her hair whenever I need to. She isn’t socially stunted, I’m not over-bearing, we are in the middle-to-end times of a phase of life where we both need each other with equal intensity. When she starts to move on to a new phase, I will move on to a new phase. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it. I don’t want to, but I will.