A thank you letter to my husband, for solo parenting this weekendJune 5, 2016
I was nervous to ask you to be in charge for 48 hours. Not because you’re incapable of looking after our daughter (far from it, when I had a tear-soaked four days away for my grandma’s funeral you smashed it), but because I felt like I was taking liberties. The mum guilt.
That you would be knee-deep in nappies while I drank rosé and ate Pringles in a swimming pool to celebrate a friend’s hen weekend. That I could pack an overnight bag in ten minutes (no tiny spoons, SPF50 or wipes) while you checked and double-checked the baby bag before leaving the house.
I not so casually asked you in the run up to my departure what you had planned while I was away. “Not sure yet”, you replied, totally chill. And my anxiety levels went up a notch. Maybe you didn’t realise how long a day could feel when you’re with a toddler. But I didn’t say it. That I would have booked in breakfasts, play dates, where she would nap, an activity for the afternoon. A full itinerary.
The root of the anxiety was this: I would not relish a weekend on my own with our daughter. The wrangling, the coaxing to sleep, the practical problems like needing the loo when at the mall when she’s refusing to stay in her buggy. How will you wee?!! my mind screamed. But I didn’t say it, because I didn’t want to draw more attention to my impending absence. The mum guilt.
And so I left. You dropped me off and took our girl out for breakfast, I met my friends and that was it. Nothing from you for the rest of the day. Either this is going really well, or it’s terrible and he doesn’t make me want to feel bad, I thought.
Glass in hand, I typed you a message. “All ok?”. And it was. She was asleep. I sent some pics of us messing around, comedy hen do accessories on our heads, and went to bed.
The bliss of sleeping until 8am! Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you when you might have been comforting her in the night, scooping her up and bringing her into our bed, or being up to face the day at 5.30am because she was. Going to bed with that uncertainty. Will it be a good night…?
Off I went to breakfast, not having to get my own while finding baby-friendly food at the buffet, keeping her away from hot drinks, and apologising for the mess we made.
We spoke just after and I was shocked by how much I missed you both, my voice catching in my throat.
And then I came home, and I swear Phoebe looked older, and you’d done her hair, and you’d bought her new shorts, and I thought I might cry, picturing you doing it.
Last night you held her before bed, her little arms around your neck and you kissed her, and you were at ease with her. More at ease than I am, perhaps.
So thank you for enabling (not ‘allowing’) me to have a weekend where she didn’t consume my every waking thought, when I could talk for hours with my friends, sleep without the threat of a 5am wake up call, when I could eat in peace, and feel like me, not someone’s mum.
I returned to you brimming with love and gratitude. I saw your relationship with our daughter with fresh perspective. And I owe you an apology for the creeping doubt that you wouldn’t absolutely smash it.
Photo by Pynkbyrd.