Spending a Night Away For The First Time
A few weeks back, I spent a night away from Cecilia and Stephen for the first time. I hadn't left her overnight since she was born, in Spring of 2014. Part of what deterred me from doing so was fear. I feared she that she would feel abandoned in the middle of the night if she woke up and I wasn't there. I was always the one who could get her to sleep most efficiently, and I also feared Stephen would have his hands full without my help.
There was always some stage preventing my complete freedom too: teething, nursing, weaning, then potty-training. It took her longer to wean from breastfeeding than I had planned, and I didn't want to rush her or cut her off completely, since she never would take a bottle, or a pacifier for that matter. Though now she has been weaned for a while, her teeth are all in, and she's sleeping through the night, so I finally felt ready to go on a mini-staycation with a friend of mine.
Before becoming a mother, I never understood why women didn't just make time for themselves, knowing they needed it so badly. Like, can't the baby just get fed and bathed by anyone? Maybe, but in my experience with our girl that started colicky and turned clingy, it really felt impossible.
After 2 and a half years of round-the-clock motherhood, I truly needed uninterrupted time with a friend, so we could talk and laugh and share for hours on end. Conversations like those are what make me so grateful for my friendships, and motherhood can feel really lonely without them. Most of the time I can barely talk on the phone without frequent interruptions and background noise, so I felt I owed it to myself, and to my friend, to have some dedicated quality time.
As you can imagine, I had an absolute blast. For the first time in a long time I was able to give myself 100% to the conversation I was having with my friend, without worrying about schedules or tantrums, or trying to gently discipline. I didn't cook dinner. The door didn't swing open while I was in the bathroom. And I tried a new coffee drink at the cafe the next morning (how spontaneous of me).
I felt my age again (28), for a brief moment in time, and it was just what I needed. With all of the care I give to my daughter and my husband and my home, there are days when I feel 20 years older than I really am, and added sleep struggles never helps the matter.
What I didn't realize was how special the time would be for Stephen and Cecilia to bond without me there. Dads have their own way of doing things, and encouraging their different style is not only helpful to keep the child from becoming narrow-minded, as in mama's way is the only way, but it fostered trust between all of us. The two of them had such a fun time, and it was really wonderful for me to see their faces light up as they recounted their evening of pink lemonades, burgers at the bar, and movie time in the big bed.
It's funny how we prevent ourselves from experiences that benefit our souls immensely, like a night away with or without our spouse, a retreat, a pilgrimage, a girls weekend, etc. because of fears. We can talk ourselves out of just about anything, and come up with completely hypothetical catastrophes that leave us in our comfort zone, which can be a miserable, but safe place. I almost cancelled on my friend at the last minute, and if it weren't for Stephen's support, and the fact that he literally drove me to her front door, I'm not sure I would have gone. What a shame that would have been!
Have you ever leapt into an experience, filled with negative thoughts about potential outcomes, when deep down you knew it was the best thing for you to do in that moment? How did it turn out?