For the first four years after my first two children were born, I was a stay at home mom. I freelanced a bit here and there, publishing essays and the occasional reported piece, but my older two were only in school a couple times a week and both only once they turned three. Therefore, a good majority of our time was spent together.
I knew the music schedule at the library like the back of my hand. I knew all the best sprinkle parks and lunch spots. I had a dozen stay at home mom friends who I met in park for playdates and bitch fests. I remembered to carry diapers always had snacks in my bag. I also couldn’t wait for Rob to get home and night, rarely had any time to myself, and felt incredibly envious of my friends who had bustling careers. I adored (and still adore) my children, but I knew I was missing something that really mattered to me.
And then I went back to work.
I have always straddled a weird line since I haven’t worked in an office full time since my babies were born. I am the one who is home when they come home from school and the one who drives them to their various activities. But I am also rarely around during the day as, between my writing and yoga practice and running and teaching, I almost always have something to do. And my baby went into care from 9-2:30 right at 18 months.
In other words, it’s been a long, long time since those long days of crafting and library story time and walks to and from the park. And the truth is, I hadn’t missed it.
I know this is the part where I am supposed to say how much I loved being a stay at home mom and what a gift it was, but the truth is, I didn’t and it wasn’t. Sure, I am grateful I spent so much time with my babies when they were little, but the truth is, the fulfillment I get from work is so much richer than the kind of I had when I was home with my children.
I know, I must be a horrible human.
So the knowledge that my two oldest children would be in Ecuador over the same two weeks that coincided with toddler’s spring break has been looming over my head for a few months now. I considered enrolling her in “camp.” But I felt guilty. The truth is, my work is very flexible right now. And, much as I’d love to flex my schedule and enjoy my usual amount of personal time, I felt like I ought to try being home with baby girl. Alone. Just me and her.
Today was Day one. And between you and me: I was dreading it. I know, I know. Just revoke my mommy card already.
I woke up to teach my 5:45 AM yoga class and followed that up with an 8 mile run. Then Rob left for work. It was just me and Dar. I emailed a friend: “What do I do with a toddler?”
I decided to take it easy. The weather was beauiful. We walked into town. We played at the park for two hours. We got some lunch and some ice cream and bought two books. We counted the turtles in the park’s pond and smelled every flower on the walk home. She’s currently napping next to me.
My phone was dinging and I felt weird, almost like a babysitter. It was definitely a throwback to a life I’m not interested in returning to any time soon. But it was also a really good day. To have her all to myself. To watch all the things she can do and play. Toddlers are just as hard and exhausting as I remember and I am really looking forward to teaching tonight and attending a meeting with some of my fellow teachers.
But I am also looking forward to tomorrow. And the next 10 days. This staycation alone with my baby girl may end up being exactly what I needed after all. Bring it playdates and naptime and libraries and park time. The next 10 days are a throwback to my early days of motherhood. They say you can’t go back again. But I think I will. At least for a little while.