Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mommy-Ella Days!

"Justin's going to be out of town this weekend and next," I told my friend. "The funny thing is, we're so used to him being gone that we're not even really going to notice."

I quickly added that I wasn't trying to sound sorry for myself. It's just funny because when some women say their husband is going to be gone for a couple of nights on business they sound slightly panicked and downtrodden over the prospect of being on their own for a bit. I was saying it with a touch of pride--"No biggie, I've got this."

What's even funnier, to me at least, is that I'm actually having so much more fun with him out of town than I do on our usual Mommy-Ella days and it really is pretty much the exact same schedule as usual.

Justin left before 6 a.m., so when Ella woke up I was the only one home to take care of her. (Usually, Justin's home, but he's sleeping because he works a lot of swing shifts, so I do the daily routine without him.) She and I hung out all day, just the two of us, and then when she woke up from her nap I drove up to LA so that we could have dinner with him. (Usually, Justin leaves for work around 4:30, so sometimes she doesn't see him for more than thirty minutes when she gets home from preschool and he wakes up to see her before her nap. Often, he leaves before she wakes up from her nap. She and I do the nighttime routine, then he gets home around 3 or 4 a.m. and goes to sleep.)

I realized that the reason I feel so thrilled about him being out of town is that I get to sleep without him waking me up in the middle of the night because he's finally home from work.


To celebrate, Ella and I made pancakes for breakfast. Luckily, we found Daddy's recipe on a slip of paper in a cookbook. The Blueberry Oatmeal Pancake recipe. Ella helped me by "reading" the recipe (her favorite new word of the day) so that we could gather all of the ingredients and equipment necessary. She's big enough now to stand on a chair and help me scoop, measure, and pour the ingredients into the bowls. She even helped me hold the hand mixer. (Relax, Grandma, she just had one hand on my hand.)These are all things she first did with her daddy, who loves to cook.

Justin took this picture on Oct. 6, 2012, the first time I ever cooked with Ella standing on the chair to help me. We made waffles for breakfast that day--a Daddy-Mommy-Ella Day.
After breakfast, we did the dishes. She puts the cutlery into the dishwasher for me. Today, I figured out that I can put it on the dishwasher door and let her take her time, rather than handing each fork to her individually, which gets rather tedious. We did laundry. She helps me sort. We still have that big box she's been using as a boat, so she sorted while floating. (I handed her articles of clothing and said "pink" or "blue" as appropriate, so that she could toss the clothes into the right basket. For almost every single piece of clothing, she'd double check, saying, "That one?" Obviously, it was nothing but delightful to confirm every. single. decision. she. made.)

Somehow those two chores and getting us both washed up and dressed for the day brought us to lunchtime. For which she requested bread. I laughed at her and told her she could have bread if it were part of a turkey cheese sandwich, and that she had to eat the cheese and the turkey. (She's taken to saying, "I don't like it," and trying to give back whatever it is she doesn't want. We've gotten her to leave it on her plate instead of handing it to us or putting it on the place mat. She's still willing to try anything, and her "I don't like that" is sometimes so obviously just a test of her ability to reject something, that we just tell her to put it on her plate and then later she forgets she doesn't like it and she eats it. Plus, it changes every day. Loves it, loves it, loves it, doesn't like it, likes it, loves it... I can't keep up, so I just keep giving everything to her. As long as she's growing and eating a relatively decent variety of stuff during the week, I'm not going to worry.)

We sent this picture to Daddy, with a note for him to notice the happy girl, the clean kitchen, the washed dishes, the healthy lunch.
When Ella took her nap I managed to write the previous blog post and do more laundry, and then we drove up to a hotel next to LAX where Justin is taking a review course for the Oral Board Examination that he has to take next weekend in Chicago.

I'd been telling Ella all day that we were going to visit Daddy at a hotel. When he called at lunch to check-in he told us about the pond with the fish, ducks, and turtles, which increased the anticipation. Then, she woke up from her nap ever so slightly grouchy and it took us forever to get on the road. Justin called us at 5:37 when he was done for the day, and we weren't quite on the freeway yet. He sounded so disappointed that we weren't there already, and I was so frustrated that it was so hard to get out of the house. I'd hoped to get there early to surprise him.

I was supposed to call Justin when we got onto the 105, but there was a police car driving a couple of cars behind me in the carpool lane, so I was totally distracted. Are you supposed to exit the carpool lane illegally if way back there somewhere there is a cop car? It seemed best to stay in my lane, especially since he wasn't that close. When I finally was able to exit the carpool lane, the lights got closer.

"Ella, look at the police car!" It flew by, and I saw the writing on the doors. "Bomb Squad. Lovely."

Then, we saw the airport--sure enough, with a bunch of blazing lights clustered at one of the terminals. My thought: "Fantastic. I can't believe I'm following a Bomb Squad car to the airport. I wonder what's going on. I should put on a local FM station, instead of this XM country station. Hmm... well, I guess I'll just keep going. At least we'll all be together. Oh geez. The hotel really is across the freeway from the airport. At least no one we know is flying... oh. Wait. Mom and Dad's plane just landed. Good grief." Incidentally, Bluetooth voice activation dialing is a wonderful feature, but it doesn't work if your passenger won't stop talking. I called Justin when we were parked outside the hotel, dialing my iPhone the relatively old-fashioned way. Meanwhile, Ella was saying, "Hotel? In hotel? Out! Out! Seat belt off!" I let him drive to the restaurant.

Ella was so excited to see her daddy that she kept scooting in to sit closer to her. She couldn't stop smiling. She was giggling. She was sharing her crayons with him and looking so adoringly at him while they colored the children's menu together. Farm Stand, by the way, is an excellent restaurant in downtown El Segundo. I'm kind of surprised that in three years of living in Redondo Beach we never discovered that town. It's always just been a place to drive through on the way to the airport.
We ate dinner, went into the hotel lobby to see the pond with the koi, ducks, and turtles, and into the hotel room to brush her teeth, change her into her pajamas, read Good Night Moon, and say prayers together. Justin walked us to the car and kissed us goodbye, and when he closed the door she said, "Where's Daddy?" Again. I can't tell you how many times I told her Daddy was in Los Angeles today.

See the fish? See the duck? See the turtles? I love it when we get to see the glimmer of "I do see it!" cross her face.

So what is it that made this day feel so much better and different than all the other days I spend mostly alone with Ella? Maybe it was just the idea that it was different. Maybe it was seeing Justin wearing a shirt and tie instead of scrubs when he left the house. Maybe it was the idea of a business trip. Maybe it was the impression that doing it all alone everyday is a drag, but doing it all alone for that one weekend that my husband was away on business sounds like an accomplishment.

I don't know. I'd just like to bottle this attitude and use it on a regular basis.

1 comment:

B. Wilson said...

She is so precious. I love reading about your adventures.