Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Saturday night was the first night I have ever spent without Archer. Before Saturday I didn't think the invisible umbilical chord could stretch the 120 miles between us but it did and to be honest? It wasn't as difficult as I thought.
In fifteen months we have only left Archer for a few hours at a time. To see a movie. To run errands. To take a much-needed breather. Saturday was going to be different. I would drive him down to my parent's house, put him down to bed and leave before he woke. I would kiss his forehead and spend two full days without him by my side. Would I feel naked? I thought as much. Would I feel lost and a little bit sad? Probably.
I imagined I would be pining. Missing him and calling in every hour. Dying to know what he was eating for lunch, wanting to hear his little laugh over the phone. Checking my phone every few minutes to see if there was a problem, a question only I could answer. A voice mail?
Then I got on the train. I got on the train with my bag full of magazines and my IPOD and I put my phone away. I spent the two hour ride gazing out the window, humming to my IPOD, reading magazines. I put my feet up and pretended I wasn't in California or even America, remembering the Euro-rail and what it felt to be independent, completely alone. I watched cars blur and people scamper along the coast. I watched the waves and wrote in my diary, not about Archer but about ideas.
I forgot about motherhood and marriage and all of the many responsibilities and I enjoyed my time. I didn't even know I could do that and it felt good.
I arrived in L.A., got dressed up and went to a wedding. I took my time doing my hair and makeup and wore the highest heels I could find. I danced all night on the little wooden floor in Malibu. I didn't even bring my phone. I must have forgotten it. Forgotten everything. Forgot for a second I had a very different life. I had a drink. I had five drinks or six. Seven? I left my purse at the table and smoked a cigarette on the beach. Two cigarettes. Three?
I was Rebecca. I was separate from Archer. For the first time as a mother. I stayed out late. I came home and didn't whisper outside Archer's door. I made noise. I sang. I snored all night. I slept in.
The next day, on the way home I called. "How's he doing?" "He's fine." And so was I. Fine without him. A bit of a relief, actually. A bit of a shock. And guilt washed over me. Guilt for not missing him like I thought I would. Guilt for forgetting my cell phone and for dancing all night at the wedding and getting drunk and smoking a few cigarettes on the beach. Guilt for enjoying myself separate of my child. Guilt for insisting we take our time on the way home. "Let's get brunch at Lulus." "Let's take the bus to the train station!" "Let's stop in San Juan Capistrano for apps!" Guilt for loving my time without him, my alone time- freedom.
My guilt grew heavy as the train arrived in Oceanside and I got into my father's car. "Why didn't you bring Archer?" "He's at home with your mom."
When we arrived and I flung open the doors to see my little boy. I called his name, waved my hands and ran to him. Archer!!!
Then he looked up at me, smiled and crawled away. Toward the toys. "Whatever, Mama."
That's when I realized that it was stupid to feel guilty for enjoying my time away from him. It was foolish for me to think I should have pined and missed him and fretted over his well-being. I watched Archer as he went to his toys, babbling away, happily independent. Independent.
Maybe the umbilical chord can reach hundreds of miles. Thousands? But also and perhaps more importantly, maybe distance enables us to explore ourselves independent of one another, of our children... Maybe it's okay to take some time apart. Maybe it's okay to take some real time for me. On a train. Thoughts that don't involve Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Maybe once in a while, it's good to leave motherhood behind for a night on the town. Maybe it's more important than I thought.