This weekend, for the first time since I went on my do-I-want-to-have-another-child cruise almost three years ago, I am away without Sophie.
It is so quiet, so peaceful. Last night, I slept eight continuous hours. Today I made breakfast for no one but myself. And then I sat down here to write, without having to make Sophia a lunch, brush her hair and teeth, and drop her off at nursery school before having the space to do so.
And yet, my thoughts keep turning towards her. Not in a worrisome way. But feeling her absence strongly. In the little house where I am staying, there is an extra room off of mine with a single bed and a slanty ceiling and a tiny closet/crawl space just perfect for lining with blankets and hiding out. I want to climb inside it with her. At the beach, I gathered up well-worn stones, sanded to smoothness by the water that I want to give to her. Yesterday, I saw a tiny crab, laboriously carry his oversized claw, walking sideways. I was reminded of last weekend, when Sophie and I watched The Little Mermaid together and the sea gull called Sebastian a “silly side walker.” At the time, I had explained what it meant. Now, I am sorry I am not able to show her.
As happy as I am to be alone, I know I would also enjoy having her at my side, sharing this with me, delighting in her every revelation that comes with a new experience. Her gasps of surprise. Her dances of delight. The way she rushes toward each new thing with enthusiasm and intensity. The looks on the faces of others watching her. Knowing that she spreads joy everywhere she goes. The pleasure of being her parent.
But, to my surprise, there is no ache in my heart. No sense of regret. No sorrow. This vision is simply a fantasy, a wish to have her here with me—not guilt-driven intrusive thoughts intended to punish myself for going away alone.
It might have been that a year ago. I might have felt badly that I was going off to rest and renew, while saddling Kevin with the evening and morning routines and leaving Sophie in school for a full day. I might have struggled to justify it—to Kevin, to others, but mostly to myself.
“I haven’t taken a vacation in years.”
“Kevin’s going away to Ireland in October.”
“I work hard. I’ve earned this.”
No. I simply want this. It is a secret that I am no longer afraid to speak. And I say it with great joy.