With a giant, calorie-laden, butter-loaded popcorn in my lap and a soda so large my bladder shuttered at the thought of it, I settled in to my theatre seat next to my husband to enjoy the newest take on the classic fairytale, Snow White. And almost simultaneously, we looked at each other and let it sink in that we didn't have a baby in tow. It was oddly unsettling.
Leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time is a hard thing for any parent. When we were last at our doctor for a check-up, we casually mentioned that we were planning a date night and our doctor warned my husband that he was about to have two crying women on his hands. Well, I'm happy to report he was wrong. But not far off.
We moved up here nearly a year ago for my husband's job and are not fortunate enough to have family close by to watch Baby K when we need some "us" time. It's really too bad because there is no one I trust more in this World than my husband or my mother. So when I want to date the first, it would be great to be able to leave Baby K with the latter. But, no such luck.
However, we've been extremely fortunate to meet some great people in Fort St. John; people we now consider good friends. They've been around since Baby K was born so she is familiar with them, they have children close to her age and are in that zone themselves, and they're good people who we trust and were happy to take her for a couple of hours while we tried our first solo date in three months.
So we fed her, changed her, cuddled her and packed her in to her car seat to leave her for the first time. As we left the house, I was gripped with fear. I threw questions at my husband quicker than he could come up with a wise crack to respond with. What is she thinks we're abandoning her? What if she's sleeping when we leave and wakes up in a strange place with strange people? What if she has a medical emergency? What if she forgets me? What if she does something for the first time- like roll or walk or say mama? I should point out that she is three months old and I was being ridiculous. Although I knew that, I couldn't stop the dumb questions before they came out.
As he pulled in to the drive, I had convinced myself that we shouldn't go. With his endless patience, he just unhooked her car seat and took her in to the house with me in tow. And once we were in, it got a little better. I was trying to play it cool, and it had the side effect of calming me down. We made sure she was awake and we walked out the door so she would know what was going on; we want her to know that although we may leave sometimes, we will also always come back.
The movie wasn't what I was expecting. In itself, it was good. However, I was distracted. It was so strange not to have a baby with us, and I found myself MISSING her. She's kind of become my sidekick as of late and she's a part of me. So I fidgeted and kept checking my watch to see how much longer before the movie was over. Then I sped back to get her, convinced that she desperately needed me by now.
Nope. She was fast asleep. After taking a nice, leisurely poop for her babysitters, she dozed off and just chilled while she waited for us to come to our senses and come back for her. No skin off her back. While I was elated that she was so easy to leave with people, I was admittedly slightly disappointed that she didn't need me as desperately as I thought she might. Overall though, it was a total win.
I feel like it was important for us to leave her with someone early on in her life; not just for her, but for me as well. Sure, the more we socialize her and let her be babysat, the more likely we are to have an outgoing and people-friendly child. As mentioned before, leaving her with people we trust goes a long way in building hers as she learns that we always come back. This means we might be able to take in an overnighter or weekend away for our anniversary next year because she'll be comfortable. But in reality, this exercise was likely more valuable for me.
It was hard leaving her now. I had full on separation anxiety. I can't even imagine how bad it would be if I waited another three months to try. It's like the dishes after you've made a good and sticky mess; the longer you wait, the harder it is to do. Although she's a huge part of me and my life, I need to accept that she is also an independent person who will be better if I let her spread her wings a little.
I may not be planning to do it again anytime soon, but at least I know we're capable, right?