Everyone knows how much I love my daughter. It’s not exactly a secret. But for me, at this moment, it’s a sort of revelation. I’ve just spent my first time away from her... I mean really away from her... as in more than a few hours with the sitter. I’ve been away for nearly 5 days. They have been some of the best five days of my life but they’ve been tainted by the ever looming shadow of her absence. I’m simutaneously filled with the overwhelming feeling of being able to breathe for the first time in 2 years and the feeling of absolute suffocation. I keep looking around me, constantly plagued with the nagging suspicion that I’ve lost a wallet or umbrella or perhaps, a baby. I hear her voice and want to jump through the phone.
And yet, I find myself smiling in gluttonous pleasure as I gleefully sip my coffee, by myself, with nowhere to go and no one to be. The thought of bills and groceries and laundry and runny noses are far from my mind. I leave for the day without having to check my shoulders 4 times for traces of snot or oatmeal. I don’t have to pack 3 different bags, a blanket, an "elli", a change of clothes, and a million snacks. I simply walk out the door without a thought. I’m having conversations... real conversations... about things that matter, things that make a difference... about anything but diapers and naptimes and temper tantrums. I feel for the first time in a long time that I am a part of something. I feel that people are speaking my language, with words that are beautiful and big and long with multiple syllables. I can stay out late, talk a little longer, eat a little slower. I feed myself... and only myself. I take 30 minute showers during which I even shave my legs. I walk... I stroll... without a stroller, without intermittent stops to pick up tossed toys or to supply snacks.
I feel... just feel. Alive. Awake. I’m clear headed and in the moment. I’m not under water. I can think. I remember myself, like a long lost stranger intoduced for the second time. I remember what I like, what I love, what I want. I’m almost overwhelmed by my sudden ability to hear and think and taste and move. I wonder where all these things have gone for such a time... how they have managed to hibernate inside of me, undetected and unnoticed for so very long.... so long that I have completely forgotten. It’s almost frightening the absolute immensity of simply feeling these feelings. I’ve been so lost in a love that is synonymous with worry and fear and guilt... to call it all-consuming cannot be adequate. Love as a mother is a love with a pleasure that is so singular, so telescopic, that you must step back from it in order to focus on anything else.
Just to be able to sit up late and write these words without the nagging guilt that I’ve got to get up early and put on my happy face... is a gift... a euphoric pleasure. I felt pretty today... in my new black dress and my long forgotten leather boots... actually pretty, for the very first time since the 7th month of my pregnancy. I had a 2nd glass of wine without a 2nd thought. It was lovely.
I took a walk tonight... a walk... at night... outside. It’s a rare occasion these days to see the night sky for more than a moment. I’ve long forgotten that lovely feeling of feeling so small under the vastness of a night sky. The wind was kind enough to participate in the magic and was so wonderful and warm and yummy.
This week I have stood inside a senator’s office, helped to schedule his week, sent out his mail. I walked the halls of the capitol building... without a tour guide and throngs of people. I attended meetings that will change the lives of hundreds of children. I had dinner with the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. I was offered an internship and promised a job. It was breathtaking and fulfilling and felt like home.
And yet I find myself packing my bags 2 days early to leave. Because today, on the phone, a very small voice said "mama" in such a way that all of it... the walks, the coffee, the wind, the conversation, seemed like a very small sacrifice. My heart aches in a way that I have never before known. And I know that the night sky will wait, the leather boots will wait, the conversations... will wait. But my baby... she will grow. Her face will change, her words will get bigger, her hands will no longer find themselves so often around my neck. So I too... will wait.