I almost never go out and leave Jacob and Craig alone for any extended period of time. Why not? Well, I suppose it has to do with a variety of things. First, evenings are short enough. I only get to see Jacob for a few hours each day and it seems pretty crappy to not take advantage of that. Not to mention, it's hard to motivate myself to leave the house again after dinner. And even if I do go out, it's usually for groceries and I usually wait until after Jacob's in bed so I don't disrupt his bedtime routine. And by that time anywhere interesting is closed. But as a whole I'd rather just plop my butt on the couch. Second, I'd feel less guilty about leaving Jacob on a weekend when I do get to spend the majority of my time with him, but during the hockey/lacrosse seasons, Craig is home very little on weekends...and when he is, I'd like to be enjoying (or making good use of) my limited time with him as well. Finally, to be honest, I don't have a lot of friends, which means I don't have many reasons to go out solo. Most of the time it doesn't bother me. I'm perfectly happy at home and have plenty of things to do there. But there are times that I know I'm craving some me time. And there are other times where I suddenly wonder why I haven't gotten something done, only to realize I just haven't had the chance to go out and focus on it without having a screaming, antsy toddler distracting me every few seconds. It makes it hard to be productive. And inevitably, I tend to let stuff like this build up, and then suddenly I want to do it all at once just to get it done, which probably leaves Craig and Jacob feeling a little abandoned.
Regardless, I love Jacob and really do want to spend most of my time with him. I'd feel horrible if I made a habit of being out too often. As it is I usually feel a twinge of guilt every Thursday when I go to the gym and don't get home until 7pm. It's only an hour later than usual, but it only leaves me a little time for playing by the time we get through dinner and head toward bed. That's just not enough, and it's probably not fair to Jacob. But it's something I need to do.
Last week I got a tentative invite to a dinner for a retiring co-worker, my former boss. Craig was working a lacrosse game (college) scheduled for that same night, so we knew it would take little coordinating, but the overlap was small so we figured we could do it. But then the plans changed and the invite was rescinded (ahhh, office politics), but then yesterday it was reinstated and we worked out the details of the shuffle at the last minute. I'd pick up Jacob, we'd exchange him somewhere, and I'd be off for a nice evening. It worked out well other than the fact that Jacob was a little cranky at that time, but I was confident Craig could handle it. All he had to do was get through dinner and bedtime...not bad. But as I stated previously, I usually bend over backwards to make sure I'm home for bedtime. It had been a while since Craig did bedtime all alone. He called me twice to say hello and check a couple things, but as a whole I think everything was fairly uneventful. Jacob did ask for me, but he survived...of course. Still, I felt bad that I was going home to a sleeping baby who I had zero quality time with that day. Hello, mommy guilt.
That said, I had a fabulous time at dinner. It was a lovely Italian restaurant, a very unassuming spot in a tiny plaza downtown, and the food was fantastic. The company was made up of some very high ranking managers and long-time employees in the company, but I was there as a member of the same department as the woman retiring. I was so pleased that I could go, both because it was a fun group and the food was fabulous, and because I did want to honor my former boss (she voluntarily stepped down from that position a year ago to make way for someone more specialized, but was still a big part of the department). It was nice to be out with adults, having fun conversation, learning great party tricks, and eating fabulous food.
Upon thinking about the whole situation on the way home, I realized that it was good for me. Really good. And I should probably do it more often. And now that all of Craig's teams are done for the summer (boo!), I can. I spent a lot of nights and weekends this winter alone with Jacob, and I'm perfectly happy with that...but it's not always easy getting things done that way, and I'm probably not the most well rounded person as a result. I always think back to that commercial from a few years ago that featured a woman who started talking baby talk to her husband while out at the theatre...bringing to light that she really needed to get out more because she'd been spending far too much time at home talking baby talk to her child. And there are times I feel a little like that. Without much adult interaction at times, I'm surprised that hasn't happened more. I'll admit it was nice to bond with other parents last weekend at that birthday party, and even last night there were some kid-related conversations. It's always nice to know that you're not alone in whatever insanity your child is providing, even if you're just finding out that other people are dealing with a different brand of insanity (but insanity nonetheless). On the bright side, the weather is getting better so it provides a few more options when we do have free time--going to the playground, taking a walk in any number of spots, visiting the zoo, or playing in the backyard. Soon we can add our pool or the beach into the mix. Variety helps a lot! Still, I think it would be good for Craig to get a few more cracks at the bedtime routine so Jacob isn't thrown off when I'm not there to do it. In addition, I know that I always have a running list of things I'd like to do when I have the chance to do them alone, and being able to do any of them would take a load off my mind. For example, right now I need a haircut. I would also like to do some shopping--both for myself and for Jacob, and to find a nice retirement gift! I'd also like to start riding my bike again, something I haven't done since the summer before I was pregnant! Most importantly, I haven't had a weekend with my two best friends from college since a year before Jacob was born, which means we are terribly, horribly overdue. When Jacob was first born, I was nursing, making a weekend a logistical nightmare. Then I was a bit hesitant to leave him for that long, assuming I could even find a weekend when Craig was free. And of course, if he was free, I felt bad that I wouldn't get to spend that time with him. And beyond that my friends have busy schedules as well. But I am determined to make it happen now. I need it. You can only shove your wants and needs down for so long before it becomes a problem. And while I don't think it's a dire situation at this point, I think I'd be on my way without actively taking steps to prevent it. So let's hope I can make it happen without feeling a dose of mommy guilt...because ultimately I think it'll make me a better mother, even if it may seem like I'm a worse one in the short term. Time will tell...