Needless to say, we would have liked more dates, but we are not martyrs for having opted out of them.
First, both Leighton and I have been opposed to any needless stress and crying, and for us, leaving our child anxious and possibly crying, even in the care of good friends or close relatives, has not been an option. Instead, we've waited till she was ready for separation.
Second, I nursed her to sleep at night till she was close to 3 and by the time I'd gotten my body out of our bed, it was usually too late for a date. Lilly was about one by the time we managed to haul ourselves out for a couple of late night beers (9:30 felt pretty late to us at the time). We are grateful to our friend who gave us this first date. And to another friend who helped us have our very first date six months before this: a quick lunch while she strolled Lilly around outside.
Spelling this out, I'm not looking for your sympathy (or perhaps a bit) or recognition (perhaps a bit of that too). I'm just providing back story for some bigger events to come.
So, around the time Lilly turned two, she had grown more attached to a few close friends of ours and their kids, and after that, early evening dates for us while she was with them at their houses became more practical. We've enjoyed them every time. But leaving your child with a babysitter to go out for an early drink and dinner was on a completely different plane. We felt so adult! Even just the simple experience of picking up the babysitter and dropping her off later: what a landmark!
Lilly's closing in on completing her first year of preschool and amazing developments have occurred. She can read. She can write. She has new friends. She likes the idea of a babysitter. And now is even excited about the prospect of a vacation just her this summer visiting her grandparents in Wyoming. That is, we'll out fly out to Denver and spend some time together the five of us there before Lilly and her grandparents head up to Wyoming while we enjoy a couple more nights in Denver. All by our two-selves.
Of course Leighton and I are both excited and nervous. I know she'll be brave and probably have a lot of fun too, but I also realize she'll be missing us, and especially at night. I know Leighton and I are bound to tie ourselves up into knots of worry, but I hope we'll be able to let some of that go too and enjoy ourselves and the growth this vacation will mark for her and us.
It will be a good preparation for my own travels this fall too, leaving Leighton and Lilly at home while I go traveling to give talks and readings in conjunction with the release of my book. My first trip will take place just a month after our family slash parents-only vacation, taking me all the way to Mexico City where I've never been before. A trip to Oslo follows only a week after that, with another cross Atlantic journey to Germany and England the following month.
So far I've spent a total of two nights away from Lilly, once the summer she turned one, and then again that following fall. At least this time around, I won't have to pump. At least this time around, she understands I'll be back. I should feel elated and free, and I do, at least a tiny bit. But separation like this is only a snapshot of the overall thing going on here with both her and I shedding the cocoon we've spun around our little family. Separation like this takes courage.
Yes, Of Course It Hurts --
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking. Why else would the springtime falter? Why would all our ardent longing bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor? After all, the bud was covered all the winter. What new thing is it that bursts and wears? Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking, hurts for that which grows photo credit: date night in denver