By now you are probably well aware that I’m a firm believer in the oxygen mask theory for new mothers, meaning, that on the plane you put your own mask on before assisting others, and in motherhood you need to take care of yourself so you can give to your family. To that end, all last year I had planned on a night or two away from you. I had no problem with this, had come across it in Jessica Mills’ book My Mother Wears Combat Boots, in the chapter entitled Cutting the Cord, in which she describes taking her first trip away from her then-15 month old daughter to San Francisco from Florida to go to a friend’s show. I also knew a few mothers in baby group who had spent the night in a hotel to get a good night’s sleep.
I daydreamed and journaled about this three day trip I would take, by myself, down to Marseille for two nights. I imagined packing just enough to fit in a backpack, just a bathing suit and pareo, the clothes on my back, a non-baby related book to read when the fancy struck, some music, a small bottle of bath salts and one scented tea candle, my journal. I imagined sleeping in, ordering room service, reading and drinking tea in bed, then heading out to the beach, walking slowly and deliberately over the water’s edge, breathing in the sea air, taking a bicycle or hopping on a bus along the coast, jumping in the water to swim occasionally. I dreamed about this little trip, a little bit of a break from the shackles of motherhood. Let’s face it, son, sometimes the activities involved in the caring of a child can be tedious, maybe tiring isn’t the right word, let’s say draining.
What ended up happening is that we all went down to Marseille, you, me, your papa and the dog, and to be honest son, that was a much better plan, to take a family vacation. I didn’t regret not going by myself, but before we left I walked in to a hotel just a couple of buildings down from our apartment, and booked myself a night in September. Once again, I had daydreams of waking up when I liked and not because someone was howling on the other end of the room, demanding to be picked up, of taking the three books I had received for my birthday and leisurely flipping through them, maybe ordering room service.
We came and went on our summer adventures, and about a week before my reservation at the hotel, I walked in and I cancelled it.
It is surprising to me that I would have done that, because I do still feel it is good to have time to one’s self, but the way I feel about it now, that you are sixteen months old is, I don’t really need it. One is because you are just the most incredible sleeper, you must be the greatest sleeping child in the universe. But also, son, and this amazes me that I feel this way, especially since it is such a cliché thing to say, but I feel like, this period of time is not going to last forever. Some day soon, in ten years, you will be starting collège (junior high, of course, not university), and establishing your independence, not nearly as interested in your mama as you once were, and I will wish for just one more day like the days we have right now, I will wish more than anything, for just one more chance to feed you dinner and have you try to feed me your peas, and then give you a bath and sing to you and read Goodnight Moon, and talk about your day, and then lie down in bed and give you your bottle of milk and watch you drift off to sleep and then put you down in your crib. I will wish for one more chance to tackle you to get your sleep sack on (why DO you fight me so hard on that one son ?) and I will think back to that night that I stayed in a hotel instead of doing all of this, and I will think to myself, why on earth did I want to do that when I could have been doing all of this ?
This time with you is so precious, son, and I just feel like, I absolutely don’t want to miss one single day of it. Not one day. So yes, son, I absolutely believe in taking care of yourself, getting a good night’s rest and doing it away from your baby if that’s what it takes.
But there will be time again for all that. There will be time for leisurely reading books in bed while drinking tea. That day will come all too soon. For now, I want to soak up every single day that I can. I sometimes feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world, to be on extended parental leave and therefore a SAHM, which is also something I never dreamed I would be happy doing. But I am. I feel so lucky to know that I have a job as an English teacher to go back to, but that I can still spend the days with you, doing all these SAHM-y activities. We have to be careful with money these days without my salary, but I feel so lucky that we have a bit in the bank, that I was able to buy a couple of pieces of baby equipment that I really wanted, and splurge on a few things without too much worry. I feel so lucky that I have a child in Paris, that the parks and playgrounds we go to are Parisian parks, that we can sit in parisian cafes for an apricot juice if we feel like it, or go to a museum (more of that this winter I think). I sometimes cringe at not having any income, but I just feel like I will treasure this time for the rest of my life, come what may.
IN other news, ever since that day in the park last week with the doll stroller, suddenly, you can really and truly walk. You even walked to the halte garderie for the first time yesterday, with no stroller or Ergo. It’s all just going way too fast, son, way too fast…