This past weekend Pat and I went on a short trip to the Sonoma coast for our seven-year anniversary. NO BABY.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is our first overnight trip without her in over thirteen months. Date nights? You mean where we actually left the house? I’d guess….ummm…five. I strive to be authentic, so there it is.
Before I had Reagan, I was one of those people who maintained a strong (completely uninformed) opinion that after having kids it’s important to keep the relationship alive. Have a standing weekly date night. Just get a babysitter. It’s not that hard.
And maybe if you’re one of those people who birthed an “easy baby,” (a term which is a bit misleading), then maybe you agree with and abide by the above statement. For the rest of us, who were blessed with the more, ahem, spirited type, the thought that we should “just get a babysitter” is a bit more complicated.
Maybe bottles are rejected. Or just looking at a stranger makes her wail like a little hyena. Or she doesn’t just forget about you as soon as you leave the room, but instead screams hysterically for an hour straight. Or she won’t calm down or go to sleep for anyone but Mama.
Or maybe it’s just you.
Maybe you think, not even so deep down, that no one else can take care of her as well as you can. That they don’t know her as well as you do. That you’re creating anxiety in her and she’ll lose trust in you if you leave. Or worse, that she’ll think you’ve abandoned her.
For me? At some point during my daughter’s little life, all of the above have applied.
But you know where I think a lot of it really stems from? The mistaken impression that my daughter is, in fact, “mine.” That because I carried her in my body and she sleeps in my home that she somehow belongs to me. Like my cat, who I bought on Craigslist for $25.
As her mother, I am entrusted with raising her until she can one day take care of herself. To give her a sense of belonging. To teach her about God. To love her unconditionally. To provide her with her basic needs. To show her the way the world works…and the way the world should work.
But does that make her mine?
This little human I am helping to raise is an individual who is already starting to form her own opinions and preferences. She is not a doll to be dressed up and controlled, but a beautiful creation who I am given the incredible privilege to raise.
For a little while.
If I chose to really believe…and not just in my head, but I mean really believe…that my daughter is not “mine”, I wonder if would it give me more freedom to let her go a little bit. To willingly and purposefully let her learn from the hands I trust. To realize that it’s not only “okay” if she’s away from me for a little while. It’s actually good. Good for her, for us as people, and for our marriage.