When Emma was first born I remember countless meals that I could not eat because the moment I lifted that first forkful to mouth she would cry for her own dinner. I never mastered breastfeeding while eating, or really doing much else, so I would leave the table and feed her while friends and family chatted and ate. I resented it. Intensely. Every time I had to run away to take the half hour to rock her to sleep or go sit in the nursery and nurse for forty five minutes I would burn in frustration. My thoughts would bounce back and forth between what I was missing and what I wanted to do. The conversations I couldn’t participate in, or the paintings I could be working on.
This weekend Scott was invited to speak at a conference. We purchased his ticket and then debated for several days on whether or not I would go. He was told in his confirmation email to bring a sleeping bag. We figured that meant rustic accommodations, and most likely sharing a bunk house with lots of other people. If I signed on to go would we be given our own cabin or would they throw us in with every body else? I hemmed and hawed, on one hand I pictured a sweet retreat where I could sit peacefully with a book and all my journals while Emma slept soundly in the room next door. On the other hand I pictured a miserable situation where I sit in the dark in the same room while she napped and went to bed early. Emma also doesn’t really sleep well if she knows that you are in the room or even really in close proximity. She will cry hoping you will rescue her from her solitude. This turns in to tortured wails if you are actually in the room with her and she knows it. Eventually she will sleep, but by the time silence settles into the room your nerves have pulled your neck muscles into suspension cables holding your shoulders tight and you feel like the biggest ass that ever walked the earth.
We decided that I would go. When we arrived our friend Amy, who was in charge of the conference, happily showed us our own cabin on the map. We marched over, hopes high. Once the door swung open and we saw the single room with a double bed and empty bunk beds our hearts sank. We sat on the bed and debated what to do. I stood up and said,
“I’ll go and talk to Amy and see if she can put us in a two room cabin,” I marched off. I found Amy and explained that the cabin is great but Emma doesn’t really sleep if we are in the same room with her and that I will largely end up sitting in the dark.
“Oh, let me talk to our host and see what he can do,” we waited in a calm sort of limbo. Our host showed up I overheard some discussion and he soon ushered us to the ‘Sheriff’s Office.’ The ‘Sheriff’s Office’ turned out to be a rec room filled with couches with a bedroom attached. The bedroom had a double bed. Perfect.
After dinner I shuffled off to our ‘Sheriff’s Office,’ ready to put Emma down and ease into a nice book. As I let my back sink into one of the couches I realized how funny my present attitude was, I was completely content to be left alone in a cabin with a book while my husband went off to the evening meeting. I didn’t even care that I was missing out. For the rest of the conference I wouldn’t be able to attend most of the workshops. The first was at nine in the morning and the second was at eleven. Emma naps from about ten to eleven thirty, smack in the middle of everything. I was more than happy to have the time away from email, my long to do list, and the pull of all the things a mother feels that she must do. So for three days I didn’t check Facebook or Gmail. I didn’t even crack my laptop. I only used my phone for a time telling device. I wasn’t able to attend fun workshops on wilderness leadership, and I didn’t care.
Funny how priorities and perspective changes…