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July 28, 2008

Missing Them

I haven't seen my daughter much in the last month.  At the beginning of July, Kevin took Kavi to go visit his parents in California.  I'd originally planned to go with them, but when it came time to actually book the tickets, I was feeling just exhausted with the end of the school year (much grading of papers), and nothing sounded better than a week at home alone.  So I asked Kev if he thought he could cope without me, and he thought he could -- he'd have his parents there, and his sister's family too.  It was the first time he'd travelled alone with her (she's fourteen months now), and I was a little worried about the whole airport thing, but even though she didn't sleep that much, he said they did okay.  (Of course, everyone in the airport was SO IMPRESSED that a dad was travelling alone with his child; he got lots of praise and much more help than I do when I'm travelling alone with her.  Sigh.  At least that extra praise irritates him too.)

They were gone for ten days, and I have to tell you -- it was blissful.  Normally Kevin and I pretty much split the childcare and housework, with some babysitting time too, to allow us to get our work done.  With all the childcare labor gone, vast vistas of time opened up.  I churned through several long overdue household projects, feeling the stress in the back of my head (and my neck, and shoulders, and back) lessening with every task I checked off the mental list.  I read a lot.  I watched some tv.  I visited with friends.  And I didn't miss Kavi at all.

This really bothered my family, and a few of my friends.  They all asked whether I was missing Kavi yet, clearly expecting me to say yes, to sound sad.  And instead, they got a cheery "Nope!"  It was disconcerting, maybe a little worrying for them.  One of them even suggested that maybe I should start being a stay-at-home mom -- presumably so I would learn to love my daughter more?  Clearly I was supposed to feel guilty, but I couldn't bring myself to care; it was so very lovely to be off mom-duty for a while.

Then Kevin and Kavi came home, and it was nice to see them, yes, but to be honest, I probably could have used a few more days to myself.  But that was okay, because a few days after they came home, I got on a plane and headed off to San Diego, where I'd be teaching an intensive writing workshop for eight days.  Most days there, I was getting up at 6 a.m. and working straight through until I fell into bed, exhausted, at 10 p.m.  Exciting, satisfying work, with a great group of students intensely committed to their writing; it was an exhilarating experience, and I would have gladly stayed another week.  And again...I didn't miss my daughter.

It started to worry me, that I wasn't missing Kavi.  Wasn't part of being the mommy that you were supposed to want to be with your children all the time?  Was there something wrong with me, that I wasn't missing her more?  My mother was definitely starting to worry about it.

Finally I came home, and it was good to be home, and then a few days later I was off again, for a few days at a literary festival in Toronto.  And that's when I stopped worrying -- because that really had been too much travelling, too many days in a row, and I really just wanted to stay at home for a while and watch tv with Kevin and snuggle the baby.  I was finally missing them both.  And last night I came home, and it was so good to see them both.  It's a little disconcerting that Kavi has spent so much time with Kevin in the last month that now, if we're both in the room when she gets upset, she only wants him.  But I'm pretty sure that's a temporary thing, so I'm not really worrying yet.  Not much.

Next week, Kevin leaves for a week-long conference in Utah, and I'm going to be the one alone with her.  I think it'll be okay; I'll try to immerse myself in mommy-hood for a week -- besides, the babysitter will be there in the mornings, so it's not as if I'll be completely on my own.  Maybe by the time Kevin gets back, he'll have started missing us.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be missing him!

Original post of Chicago Moms Blog.

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of several books, including Bodies in Motion, a collection of Sri Lankan-American immigrant stories.  She also blogs at An Ongoing, Erratic Diary about her life as a fiction writer, literature professor, and new mother. She's been blogging since 1995.


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