Olive has been away for the past week, visiting her extended family on the west coast. It has been a wild ride without her. Mexico prepared me for it in some ways – silence stretching into itself without being punctuated by her trademark speech patterns, her little voice interrupting me to ask for a drink, a hug, for me to voice her tiger toy.
But there’s something different being here in our house without her. Distractions are fewer, I don’t have someone to cook for and clean up after, her laundry is put away in five minutes instead of a half-hour of matching the shirts to the appropriate drawer. It’s been strange. And disconcerting. And impossibly wonderful.
I felt like I had been thrown back in time. What did do before I had her? What filled my days, absent her tyrannical demands?
I tried to remember. I woke up and I wrote, I walked, I got caught up on the last little bits of getting settled into our home. I caught up with friends in Calgary, I went out for drinks and dinner and coffee dates. I stayed out too late and slept in too late the next morning. I wrote more. I read. I spent a lot of time trying to plan next steps in this life of mine – new work and new ventures.
I realized, mid-week, that the tightly knotted ball had eased from my stomach. I noticed how my cheeks hurt from smiling. When Olive is here a lot of my time is spend responding to her in the moment, there isn’t a whole lot of time for reflection, but this past week that space unfurled in front of me and I spent a lot of time chewing over everything that has happened and is happening, that which has yet to happen glinting somewhere on the horizon (cross your fingers for me).
Once I had the chance to reflect, I realized somewhat to my surprise that I was happy. Our little life here is pretty beautiful. I have everything I need, and more. I feel like I have finished reading one book, and opened a new one. I can’t wait to see what people, places and stories these next chapter brings.
That said, I am also feverishly counting down until three-thirty when I can watch her come out of those airport doors and scoop her up into my arms and kiss her chubby cheeks and hear her voice. I can’t wait for her to bring back the chaos, the noise, the tiny hand tugging on my arm in the middle of the night asking to sleep in my bed.
Before I had her I was concerned about the upheaval a baby would bring into my life. I like things just so, I don’t do well with disarray or disorder. I’m not particularly attached to schedules, but I liked the freedom I had. I tasted that again this week and although I adored the ability to simply walk out my front door, to go see whoever I wanted whenever I wanted without needing to arrange for childcare, I can’t wait to have her back. My littlest, biggest responsibility.
Also, in a completely unrelated tangent that I simply couldn’t not write about. Have you heard about this story? A high-school student is protesting her school’s archaic dress code after she was suspended for wearing a floor-length maxi-dress that – gasp! – exposed her upper back. The reasoning , as explained by her school’s administration? The dress was “a ‘sexual distraction’ for male pupils at the school”.
Is this for real? This is 2015, right? In CANADA? I always think us Canadians skew towards more tolerance, less conservative bullshit than our American neighbours, but this is absolutely ridiculous. If I was one of her male classmates I would be livid that the administration at my school thought me so feeble-minded that the sight of a young woman’s upper back would be enough to derail my studies.