Next Tuesday is mine and Matt's 13 year dating anniversary. Since we were together for so long before finally getting married, we still celebrate it, mostly out of habit for having celebrated it as our only anniversary for so long. It is a nice milestone too, and comes right at that point in the winter when you need a bit of whimsy to get you through. It really warms my saddened, winter heart to think of Matt's hushed teenage voice that night, asking me if I wanted to "go with" him (Question--do kids still call it that? "Going with" someone? As in "We are going together"? I should ask my daughter. Part of me, however, doesn't want the answer.).
We had, orginally, in a feat of great hubris and excitement, decided that we would go to the same cabin where we celebrated our wedding anniversary in June. It is a lovely place--magical and remote and wonderful. However, as time slipped by, we kept putting off making the reservations. And then we started waffling--maybe we would like to go somewhere else, maybe we would prefer just staying at home, in the house, kid-free, where we could go out and do the things that childless people do. Maybe we wouldn't do anything at all. But then we realized that during our more hubristic moments, we had both requested Monday and Tuesday of next week off for our trip. Neither of us wanted to take those days off if we didn't have a good reason to. So we finalized plans with my mother in law to watch the kids during those days.
Matt is unabashedly excited about all of this. He has brought it up constantly over the last couple of days--"Let's make wonderful filets with blue cheese while the kids are gone!" "Do you want to drive to Asheville on Saturday?" "Let's drive to Ikea and buy furniture!". And every time he does it, I stand there, tight lipped, not knowing what to say. Is it horrible that I am no where near as excited as him? Is it even more horrible that it has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with missing the kids, especially Alice, who is still so dependant on me in so many ways?
And the truth is, I am like this over everything. If my mother in law takes the kids for the day while Matt and I do something, I dread seeing them off. I know they will have a spectacular time, but I dread it. What if this happens? What if that? I always end up having a great time, but leading up to the event, I'm a nervous wreck. And the thing is, if I were Matt, this would bother me. He has brought it up a few times, that he wishes I could just "turn it off", but I can't. And I end up feeling guilty on two fronts--the one that is leaving her kids, and the one who can't stop thinking about those kids while she is doing it.
Alice still nurses, although mostly at night. I really dread having to pump again, as I stopped that all together when she turned one and stopped using a bottle. My mother in law can get her to sleep without eating or drinking anything, and assures me that this not an issue. However, last night, I was nursing her before bed and I looked down at her pretty little profile and thought, "What if she forgets to do this after this weekend? What if I ruin this for both of us?" A veritable wave of guilt washed over me, and I wanted to stay right there, in that bed, with her and no one else forever. I wised up, got Al to sleep and walked into the living room. There Matt sat, looking up restaurants online, and writing them down *with reviews* and menu recommendations for WW-me. He is so amazing, I thought.
And I am stuck in the middle of wanting to be that happy guilt-free mom who needs the time off and gladly takes it, and that other mom, the one who helicopters over her kids and cries as if her heart would break when she sees them leave.
Parenthood, it bears repeating, is hard, ya'll. There is this constant tug of war that occurs, one that you think you get the hang of and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in the mud, clutching to the rope and trying to regain your footing. I don't know. That is the thing. I just don't know.