I toss and turn in my bed as David gets up to soothe our baby back to sleep. It’s the middle of the night and I can hear them negotiating in the next room. Maybe it’s a nightmare, a toothache, or just the need for assurance that we are close by. We are both tired, as tired as any new parents are expected to be. But it’s ok; tomorrow we will find rest.
Five minutes, ten minutes pass. I know I should be asleep. But my thoughts run rampant. In a few hours, we will be leaving on our first trip since our son was born. Our first trip alone.
It was the perfect Christmas gift – exactly what I asked for. A short getaway in the dead of Canadian winter. The gift of relaxation, warmth, and sleep. All the plans were made; all I had to do was pack my bags. Bags which remain unpacked because in my mind, this trip isn’t happening.
David already made arrangements for our son to stay with his grandparents. My mother is practically a second mom. Deep down, I know he will be ok with her.
But I can’t get this feeling to go away, like I am making a mistake. What if he is looking for me in the middle of the night and won’t understand why I’m not there? What if he’s inconsolable and needs us?
It’s morning. I tell my husband I think we should reschedule. Our son isn’t ready. But really, I am not ready.
“I’m sure he will be fine. We won’t be very far. Isn’t this what you wanted, anyway?”
It is what I want. But when you become a parent, your wants change and conflict and compete. I want to be with him, all the time. I want to be there for him, any time. I want to be alone, sometimes.
We drop off our son at his grandparents. He’s thrilled to see them, and hardly looks back at us when we say goodbye.
“Mama and papa will be back soon,” I tell him as I kiss his head, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. There is just excitement in his eyes because he knows it’s always fun with his grandparents.
We say our goodbyes and walk away.
Roadtrips and leg space
In the car I realize I can move my seat all the way back. There’s no carseat behind me, cramping the limited space we have in our commuter car. The car that has taken us so many places in our 10 years together. I stretch my legs out and look at David with excitement over this simple pleasure. Simple yet, something to savour.
A few hours pass and we’re driving in open space, far from our home in the city. We can see sun setting over the horizon and the sky looks like cotton candy. I glance over at David as he drives us to our destination. I examine his face, noticing his accurately shaved beard and fresh hair cut. The skin arounds his eyes are a bit worn, a bit darker. I’m grateful to have known this face for so many years; to have seen it change through the seasons of life.
As the sun sets I am reminded of all the road trips we’ve taken before – before we became parents. We both know everything is completely different now. We are different. But in this moment, as I watch him drive the same car that has carried us to many of our “firsts” together, it’s like nothing ever changed.