Freedom!

I just spent 5 days without Baby Bop. I visited a dear friend in San Diego. It was AMAZING. It’s a little like you don’t appreciate your good health until it’s gone. I didn’t/couldn’t truly appreciate my personal freedom until I surrendered it to an infant.

The time away was reassuring. Missing Baby Bop was a physical ache that photos on my phone didn’t assuage. What a wonderful feeling missing Baby Bop! I’ve never been gone long enough to experience that. And it was not SO hard that I would change anything. It was the loveliest thing in the world to sip wine, chat with my dear friend and think it’ll be nice to see Captain and Baby Bop again someday.

I still feel incognito when I’m without her. I have a baby, but no one knows I have a baby. And no one cares. It was on my mind because as much as I was looking forward to sitting in the airport BY MYSELF. I still managed to chat up several people traveling with babies, making sure to inform them that I too have a baby, but I abandoned her.

People didn’t react well to the term abandon. I understand, but all I could think was: I’ve escaped! I started one of three books I’d packed. I was torn between packing 2 or 3. I was trying to pack as light as possible because my friend promised to send me home with hand-me down toys. Couldn’t risk running out of reading. Could risk not getting another Elmo.

With the book I’m reading in my handbag and the other 2 in my rolling carry-on, I board the plane. There’s a woman on the gang way juggling an 8-month-old baby, a stroller, several bags and an iced coffee. People are speeding past. How is that possible? I’m sure plenty of these incognito people have children.

As she struggles to get her stroller ready for gate check I ask,

“Can I help you?”

“Oh yes thank you.”

And she hands me her baby.

I expected to help her with the stroller and bags, but the baby is dangling in the air coming my way. I grab him. In my anxiety for her having handed her child off to a stranger. I reassure her that I too have a baby. I leave off the abandoned part.

I help her board the plane and by then there’s no room in the overhead. They check my rolling carry-on. I don’t give it a second thought until I finish my 300 page book. So good! What do you mean there’s still an hour left to this flight? My other books are checked. I have to watch some TV. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, as the mom I helped paces up and down the aisle bouncing her baby.

I spend 5 full days unconcerned about nap time, bed time, changing diapers, fussing, household chores, the list is endless. And I go to the bathroom by myself so many times it starts to feel normal again.

Meanwhile Captain is holding down the homestead. I knew he’d be great, but what I didn’t know was that he knows where Baby Bop’s hair accessories are and he matched her hair clips to her outfits. I had no doubt she’d survive, but I did think Baby Bop’s wardrobe was a wild card. I stand corrected.

On my way home, my bag and I get pulled aside for additional security screening. The TSA lady tells me,

“I need to pat down your groin area, would you like to go somewhere private?”

“No thank you.” If a stranger is going anywhere near my groin, I feel much safer if it’s done in public.

I can’t imagine what set them off. I ask TSA,

“Is it my IUD?”

“Oh we can’t see that, it’s the tissue in your pocket.”

Huh.

Then a TSA guy plows through my bag and zeros in on the Elmo cash register my friend sent me home with. Elmo gets wiped down within an inch of his life. No other items warrant a second glance. I agree that adults flying without children, but with Elmo, are suspicious.

Back home I’m looking forward to sleeping with Baby Bop. She wakes several times, which is normal. Sometimes she wakes screaming, sometimes she screams words, recently it was,

“Shopping cart! Shopping cart!”

She really likes shopping carts. When she chats on her pretend phone, if you ask her who it is, she usually says “shopping cart.” She also gets upset when we leave the grocery store without the shopping cart. Yes, she has a toy one, but I’m tempted to push a real one home for her birthday.

So throughout my first night home she kept screaming,

“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

“Mommy’s here.”

“Daddy!”

Captain snuggles beside her.

“Daddy’s here.”

And then the rest of the week was a chorus of “daddies.”

One morning I’m holding a screaming Baby Bop, my intense longing for her has vanished and it’s starting to feel like it’s going to be a long day. She yells,

“Daddydaddydaddy!”

Captain appears and gleefully takes her.

It’s been 2 years of “mommymommymommy.” I would’ve gone away a long time ago if I’d known her switching parental allegiance could be so easy.

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