We don't leave our kids much. When they were babies, we had the occasional night out, timed for when grandparents visited. In the past few years, our sitter money has gone to cover meetings, and every now and then, we have left the kids with a grandparent and skipped out to see a film. But that is more of an annual, or semi-annual occurrence--certainly not a monthly one. Will it shock you too much to know we have never, ever, the both of us together, left them for a whole night? Lately we've been making resolutions that we need more "us" time together, especially given the strain this past fall has put on our stress levels--individually and as a couple. I know we should get out more, the two of us, but that's a post for another day.
One of the first times we left L. for a few hours, when he was a baby, I was surprised when we came back and he burst into tears upon the sight of us. At first I wondered why he cried at our return. Was he sad we were back? Had something happened to him while we were gone, and this was his way of telling us? Later, though, I read that babies with healthy attachments to their parents often do this. They cry when you come back because it's only upon your return that they comprehend the full impact of your absence, and how it rocked their little worlds, and their sense of safety and rightness. They realize they missed you--the smell of you, the sound of your voice, the touch of your hands. When T. was little, and still nursing, I'd come home from work and she'd wail at the sight of me, clamber onto my lap, push up my shirt with her little hands, and nurse and nurse, literally filling herself up with me, I think, to make up for my absence that long day.
T. had a great, great time with her dad yesterday at the Y-Princess camp outing. She loved the hike, and the chance to ride a pony through a trail. She loved the campfire and the picnic dinner in the woods, and the fact that her BFF S. rode in the minivan with her on the way there and back. Scott said she jumped body and soul into the chance to be with friends, to enter into their games together, be wholly herself, uncensored by her brother's constant admonitions, to join in on the songs and chants. But Sunday night, after I had tucked a very, very tired T. into bed and gone downstairs to tackle my grading, we heard little padding, bare footsteps in the hall. T. appeared, her lip trembling, her eyes brimming with tears.
"What's wrong?" I asked, and I picked her up. I took her back upstairs and tucked her in again and she clung to my neck.
"I missed you today Mama," she said, crying again--all her tiredness and the anticlimax from all that afternoon's excitment pouring out in tears.
"You had all that fun with L. today, and I didn't get to spend ANY time with you," she sobbed.
Then, "It's just not FAIR!"
That balance stuff I wrote about yesterday? Here today, gone tomorrow.