Redefining alone time

My mother called the other day. She told us to leave. To go on a date.

She wanted Sierra. And she wanted us gone.

So we obliged. We drove to my mother’s home so she could enjoy a well-deserved day with Sierra and we could enjoy a well-deserved date night.

We dropped Sierra off. We looked at each other. Panic set in.

What do we do now?

It’s getting like this more and more, it seems. Is this is what parenthood becomes – a longing for time away, but no necessary reason for it? A need for a break, but then instantly looking back to when you were with your child?

We had to find something to do. It should be something we can’t do with her, sure. It should involve eating, drinking, long uninterrupted conversations. We talked about going to the coffee shop and playing cribbage. We talked about driving to Luverne to see the Jim Brandenburg museum. Instead, we wandered around downtown for a few hours and came home to let the dog out before realizing we should just go get some drinks and eat sushi.

It’s funny. When we’re without Sierra, we search for things we can’t do with her around. This is our idea of personal time. But in all reality, caring for a child doesn’t preclude adults from doing anything aside from going to the bar and eating a long dinner without interruption – and even then, if caught at the right time, an hour nap can coincide perfectly.

Our lives aren’t as drastically different as we once thought. And the changes no longer result in missed opportunities. It’s as if we have left our younger days behind, have taken the bar rush and deposited it at the curb with house parties and video games.

So when we run out on our own, we find that there isn’t much we want to do that we couldn’t already do. We struggle to find that perfect thing – that one non-child oriented vice. And that’s okay. We’ll learn to do simple things – to enjoy each other’s company, to drink coffee and eat cookies and talk about things that get interrupted otherwise. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be genuine.

Sierra integrated her entire existence into our life, with or without her presence. Enough that she’s confused us as to what our purpose is when we go off without her. And though it seems rather constricting, like we’ve been tied around the ankles, it’s actually quite comforting. It’s refreshing. Relaxing.

She’s with us. And we’re with her. No matter where we go. And no matter what we do.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 17th, 2007