Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Day Off

Yesterday, I had what I often wish for: A Day Off.

I had to drive to San Diego to see my doctors, and Justin spent the day fathering Ella.

"I don't know why I miss her already. It's not like I don't get to see her tomorrow morning before I leave," I said as we listened to her cooing and getting comfortable for her night's sleep.

I uploaded photos onto Facebook from our Ren Faire experience that day so that I could look at her while I was gone--and show them to my doctors when they asked how she was doing. (I kept my phone ready and I could feel my face light up at the moment I volunteered the pictures. I am sure they count my smile as proof that I am telling the truth when I say she is doing great and I love being her mom.)

Ella wearing Daddy's hat.

Ella wearing Grandpa Mark's hat.

I charged my Bluetooth, which has been relegated to the back of my desk drawer since I hardly ever drive beyond her dance class these days. I intended to catch up on phone calls to my long distance friends and sister-in-law while I drove.

During the hour-and-a-half drive south, though, I was mesmerized by stories on NPR without singing Skinamarinky Dinky Dink over them. By listening to country music (which Ella enjoys) without feeling the self-control and generosity of my chauffeur before he can't take it anymore and turns off the radio.

I must have left it on all day, as it wasn't working when I decided I really would call people on the drive home.

I got there early and shopped at the outlet stores before my appointments. I ate at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant before leaving town. I hit traffic on the way back and conveniently stopped at Ikea to stretch my legs and buy the clothesline-like picture frame I wanted for Ella's room.

I missed her from the moment I got into the car in the morning without buckling her into her car seat first.

I was jealous of Justin and Ella getting to spend the day together without me.

I envied their walk to the park, their lunch, her three-hour nap (the reading and writing and things I could do during a three-hour nap!). Her Easter egg hunt (a frequent request I usually reject), their dance party and bubble-blowing sessions, their reading almost all of her books together.

That's right. The habit of the day that I sometimes find monotonous was something I craved.

I did my best to live in the moment and, don't get me wrong, I did relish my quiet time. Except for cashiers and receiving one phone call before lunch (oh, and three or so to Justin to check in upon arrival and departure and just because), I spoke to no one but my doctors. Only one and a half hours of talking from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When I got home, I stood silently smiling in the doorway, waiting for that glimmer of recognition to spread across her face as she realized Mommy was back. And we were off, sliding seamlessly into the routines of our day--hugging and kissing and reading more books and blowing more bubbles and making dinner and getting ready for bed.

I love that Justin got to spend that time with her. He misses so much while he is at work. I felt that tug he must feel when he leaves her, that rush he must get when he walks from the car to our front door, in his last moments of solitude before we are upon him with our love and our requests and our stories of the day.

During one of my quick phone calls to him I asked, "How's my baby girl?" It's what I say when she's with her grandma and I call to check up on them.

"'How's our baby girl?'" he responded.

Sheepishly, I repeated, "Yes. Sorry. How's our baby girl?"

Today, I got up when he left for work at 6 a.m. thinking, "If I'm lucky, I'll get two hours of quiet before she wakes up." Think of all the reading and writing I could do in two hours!

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