My dad just picked up my daughter for her first night away from both Rob and me at the same time. My parents, who live halfway across the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area from us, are going to take care of Grace when I go into labor and am in the hospital with the new baby and all so this is our practice run. We've had a number of people express surprise that we haven't left her overnight with anybody else before now but it just hasn't happened because of schedules and distance and our own preferences. When we were living in Connecticut, we didn't have family closer than Texas and although I know we had friends in the New Haven area who would have gladly taken care of Grace if one of us had been in the hospital or something drastic like that, it didn't feel quite right to leave her with them just for kicks. And then there's the fact that we've been pretty strapped for cash since, oh, getting married (medical school and graduate school and residency and buying a house that you later lose money on will do that to you) so jaunting off for a fun childless weekend hasn't ever really seemed like a responsible decision. And Rob's schedule was so intense during residency that there wasn't much time for such a weekend anyway; his limited vacation time went to paternity leave, trips to see faraway family, trips for house-hunting, etc. Despite all this, we could have made it work if it was a high priority to us, so I guess the most honest answer to why we haven't both left Grace before now is that we didn't really want to, or at least not badly enough to overcome the inconvenience of our circumstances and actually do it. It turns out that we like her, you know, a lot. Rob was away from her so much during residency and I've worked at least part-time for most of her life so we both felt like we'd rather be together as a threesome when it came to long weekends and vacation and all that.
So because of our circumstances and the choices we made within them, Grace has had either Rob or me to put her to bed every night since she was born. I have a little anxiety now, but not so much for Grace as for my dear parents. Whatever have I gotten them into?! Grace is, as I've mentioned before, a pretty terrible sleeper. Her sleep patterns now are pretty much the best they've ever been, with more time spent sleeping in her own bed, fewer night wakings, and less fuss at bedtime than at other stages of her life, but she still requires night-time parenting at least once most nights. (And THANK YOU, Rob, for taking over all that night-time parenting since I've been pregnant. I would be a much huger mess if it weren't for you.) We have a fairly regimented night-time routine, since that's one of the first things the experts say to do when your child has less-than-ideal sleep; I feel a bit apprehensive about how Grace will respond to things being different. Will she accept the novelty and settle down for sleep with equanimity? Will she flail and cry and pop out of bed a dozen times? We definitely had rough nights during our moving process as she got accustomed to new places like our sublet apartment, the hotels on the drive, and our new house. As they drive away, I am telepathically pleading with her, "Please please please please PLEASE go to sleep easily and have an outstandingly good night when you don't make a peep until 6am."
I definitely feel more unease for my parents' discomfort than for Grace's, mostly because she has slept overnight at their house before (with one or both of us) and she is so in love with them. She loves to go over to their house and play with the fun toys they have and read books with my mom and see their sweet one-eyed dog. And my dad-- oh, how she loves my dad. He is seriously her favorite person in the whole wide world. Back when Grace was still nursing, I might have been able to trump my dad in Grace's estimation, but I emphasize my uncertainty on that point. I'm not totally sure what it is; I definitely have a high regard for my dad but Grace's devotion knows no bounds. He has always had a mysterious charm for small children and animals-- that must say something really good about him. One of the pleasures of motherhood has been seeing Grace build relationships with my parents and other people I love; I know that my relationships are richer now because they are intertwined with new bonds that these people have with my child.
The house does seem empty as I type this, and I will be glad to get her back tomorrow after lunch. I am embarrassed to report that now that Rob and I finally have a childless 24 hours together, we still don't have much planned. We are even more hard up for ready money than usual right now and Rob has his HUGE IMPORTANT pediatric board exams scheduled for Monday, so what we really should do is have a quiet evening at home conducive to last-minute cramming accompanied by a frugal home-made dinner. I think we might cheat a little and go out to eat. What kind of place would be not child-friendly at all (thus fun to go to while we are FREE, FREE AS BIRDS) but also cheap and fun for a 7-month-pregnant woman?
- Our usual places? OUT
- A fancy restaurant? OUT
- A slightly seedy dive? Sadly, also OUT