Mama Kat runs a workshop. Sort of. She issues these writing prompts once a week and you participate and then put yourself on her little linky widget. It's fun, I promise. I did it a couple of weeks ago with the vampire post and the link didn't come through. I don't know what I did, but it's at the bottom of this post and seems to be behaving. This week, I chose prompt 5.) Describe a happy reunion.
A week at home, alone with my children is guaranteed to do a few things.
First of all, we're all going to get miserably off schedule. I am not capable of managing a schedule on my own, it seems. I need a babysitter/school/workplace to make me stay on task. I like to think it's not that I can't do it, but that I tend toward a stay up late, sleep late, nap whenever, eat lunch at 2 kind of schedule.
Secondly, I'm going to get addicted to some new television show. Just because that's how it is when I'm home all day. Brynna will roll her eyes as I beg her to watch Ashes to Ashes with me. The Husband will get annoyed when I can't get off the computer when he gets home because I'm watching the episodes I've missed in 9 minute increments on YouTube. It's pathetic, really, but that's just who I am.
Thirdly, most of my plans will fall through. Last week I had planned for us to go to the park, the movies, the Explorium in Lexington, the library, and Cincinnati. We went to Cincinnati and the movies. Brynna and I went to the library in a total rush on Sunday afternoon. It wasn't even fun.
And finally, we will all three be reminded why we usually don't hang together 24-7. For my part, it's about the juggling. I always think that in a week I can get my house spotless, catch up on laundry, take the kids on fun adventures, bake cookies and bread, re-organize my kitchen, make gourmet meals and do some serious reading and crocheting. In a week, what I manage to do is keep my kids from killing each other, wipe noses, clean up spills, keep milk cups full and collapse on the couch when the youngest finally takes a nap. I love my kids and really, I love spending time with them. It's not them I'm fleeing from when I run to work Monday morning after a vacation with a huge smile on my face, it's the untouched to do list. I couldn't be a stay at home mom, not because of them, but because of my living room floor, which is currently covered in dirty laundry, pillows and toys. I don't even understand why there is dirty laundry in the living room.
Brynna gets bored. Bored of me and the TV and the computer, bored of our yard and the walk up to the cemetery. Bored of her bike and her scooter and the one tree she can climb (that she is not allowed to climb). She is ready for the adventure.
Maren appears all week, however, to be giddy with happiness. She loves me, she loves her sister, she loves her pink sippy cup, she loves her baby doll and the ladybug car, she seems to be in bliss.
Then, Monday morning arrives. We all oversleep. I throw on clothes, drag Brynna up and get her dressed, change Maren's diaper and gather together whatever we each need for our solo journey into the world. As Brynna gets out of the car, I can often see a glimmer of doubt in her eyes. The same glimmer that I'm sure is showing in mine. We are happy to be back, you see, happy that we can get back to the rut we've been wearing in different floors. But we are also unsure about going back into the world without each other, afraid that these few days of being tethered at the hip has altered us forever, made us incapable of traveling alone. Brynna will take a deep breath, a big step and launch into her world. Where she will thrive, because that's what Brynna does. She's a weed of a child, thriving in any conditions you give her.
Maren, who still doesn't recognize landmarks, or understand always where we are going when we climb in the car, who hasn't yet put together that being in her jammies in the carseat means back to the babysitter, sits, happily smiling and sucking on the paci (she doesn't travel well without it) and watching the world pass out the window. She doesn't seem sad or upset or anything particular at all.
We arrive at the babysitter's house. She lets me pull her out of the car and set her feet firmly on the ground. She walks the well-traveled way up the drive, down the sidewalk and waits while I open the front door. She seems content, but not giddy. Almost as if there never were a vacation. It's just another day. She isn't upset that she'll be leaving me, but isn't in love with being back.
I open the door and she walks in, looks around. She takes in the toys and the nap couches. She watches me as I take off her shoes and put them by the door, sign her in and put her bag of clothes for the week by the table. MiMi (as the kids call the sitter, not to be confused with NiNi as the kids call my mom) walks around the corner, emerging from the kitchen. Maren runs, full tilt boogie, disregarding personal safety completely. MiMi reaches down and scoops her up.
"I missed you too," she mutters into Maren's curly head. Maren throws her arms over MiMi's shoulders, buries her face in her neck. There is no one else on Earth. I wait. Patient. These things used to bother me. When Brynna did this with her babysitter, I cried. Swore I was going to find a way to quit my job. My child loved the sitter more than me and that was wrong.
I now know that it was I who was wrong. Maren doesn't (and Brynna didn't) love the sitter more than me. She loves the sitter different. She loves MiMi entirely and completely, but I know that when I walk through that door at five, she'll run full-tilt toward me, too. It doesn't hurt me anymore. In fact, it makes me happy. I am happy to be leaving my child with a woman who is so obviously loved and so obviously loves my girl in return.
After a few minutes, the hug still has not broken. MiMi laughs about it and I say I have to go. "Can I have a good bye hug and kiss?" I ask.
"Bye-Bye!" Maren calls over her shoulder, not looking up, not budging.
"Okay," I laugh. "I'll settle for a Hello hug and kiss in a few hours."
Later, I'll walk into my office, take in the smell, the clean room, the pictures and the cheerful desk decorations. I will start up my computer, say Hi to my boss, pour my water cup in the nice, clean kitchen. I will sigh in relief. I will be happy to be back. But not as happy as Maren. I will wonder, walking around getting ready for the day to begin, if she has broken that hug yet. Probably, I think. But maybe not.
I should state, to be fair and perfectly transparent, that this reunion actually took place on Tuesday, this vacation. On Monday, I forgot that the babysitter wasn't open and walked up her walk at 7:30 on a day when she was sleeping peacefully past the wee hours. Then I panicked. Alas, the truth hurts. But is funnier.