What a difference a year makes. When Zi was about ten months, she spent the first night away from home, by my mother, and, while Stone dropped her over, I was left alone at home for the first time since she was born. Amidst exhaustion from work plus breastfeeding plus sleeplessness, I still found the energy to miss her. Well, no more!
Today she left with her dad to celebrate her grandfather’s birthday with the family. Amidst exhaustion from work plus breastfeeding plus sleeplessness plus having-a-fractured-cheekbone , I happily waved them off as they left, feeling no longing at all for either to immediately return.
There were dilemmas of course. Stone’s mom had personally called to ask me to come over, reminding me that last year I also found some reason not to come. I like Stone’s family and genuinely wanted to go, but the only times Stone voluntarily takes Zi anywhere for hours at a time is when he takes her to see her grandparents. These are, therefore, the only times that I am left home alone. Such times are rare and precious. After a long week at work, it’s hard to trade them for another day on the road, out of the house, among people, responsible for Zi, and unable to ignore everything and everyone for a few hours of quiet freedom.
With my freedom, of course, I planned to fold and put away a small mountain of clothes, sort and organise a large molehill of toys, finish writing an overdue essay, wash the dishes, feed the dogs and generally tidy around the house. Before Zi was born, I similarly used to go around compulsively tidying. Any stranger walking through might have mistaken our house for a minor hotel because things were always in straight lines and neatly in their assigned place. Well, no more!
The clothes sat depressed and unattended, the jumbled toys made claustrophobic pleas that were ignored, the essay slummed with a motley crue of low-priority tasks, and the tidying sighed in despair all over the house. I didn’t care. Such a difference, after only a year.
There were dilemmas of course. I felt guilty that I could have been using my time more productively instead of lying about reading. I kept thinking that if I did all my chores while Zi was gone then I’d be able to spend better quality time while she was here instead of putting her aside to put away clothes during our few, just as precious, weekend days together. I’d be a better mother if I got all this stuff done now, I thought. ‘I’m tired!’ I then thought, ‘rebel!’, although it was not clear who I was rebelling against as I’d have to eventually face up to the clothes anyway.
When I was childless, I didn’t have to value my time because it was all mine. When I had Zi, I was willing to give it up, seemingly endlessly. Well no more! When Stone called to say they were on their way home, my first instinct was to think, ‘already!’
So much for love.
‘Did you get anything done?’ he asked. ‘Like what? No.’ I said ambiguously, and pointedly, deciding I would write history as if I spent my freedom revelling in time spent without clearly set or achieved goals.
Thus passed about three hours of learning how hard, but yet necessary, it is to say no to family, chores, work and even your own obsessions with cleanliness in order to give yourself a few minutes to do nothing at all, guiltlessly. Miss Ziya? Miss Stone? Hah! No more!
I suppose I’m right on schedule with most moms. What I’ve actually missed is time for me.