Further adventures / Wild Baby

Facing a whole new scary adventure

I am going to New York. It’s not for work. Even stretching the definition of work as I do, I’m not doing anything adventurous, not taking my walking boots, maybe not even taking my laptop.

And yet I’m more nervous about this trip than any other except one. If adventuring is getting out of your comfort zone this definitely counts.

I was chatting to a young man the other week, good-looking and self-possessed, neat with his clothes and fierce with his opinions. I told him that I was away from my baby for only the second night in 21 months, and he, understandably, boggled. Then he caught himself, replaced his face, and explained that he didn’t know about that parenting world, and was that normal? I said I wouldn’t have believed it either, but here I am, living it. Complicit hostage.

So, I’m going away. All on my own to visit a friend and go dancing till late, with hand luggage only, containing a novel and at least one dress I can’t breastfeed in, and travel insurance in case I get mastitis.

FullSizeRender-1I find myself wishing I was going away for work for the inevitability of it, that I was ordered to go, required to go, sigh… those cruel pressures of modern life, tearing a mother in two. But nope – I bought the ticket and I’m going, just for the hell of it. And beneath the guilt and embarrassment I am proud, and I think it’s really important. I’m partly doing it on Rhys’s encouragement, so that he gets to be number-one parent for a while, and he and Osh can thrash out their own relationship without it forever being defined in relation to me, as they bide time until me and my breasts return from whatever it is we’ve been doing. I’ll be away for long enough for them to establish a new normal, and if ever there was an illustration of why that’s important, it’s the amazing fact that so many people have said, “Oh! Who’s going to be looking after your son?” Er, his father?

I feel like society and biology have conspired, over the nearly 22 months (that’s around 660 days, or 95 weeks, FYI) of his life and my new life, to make me feel like the centre of the universe, whether I like it or not. I’m the centre of the baby’s universe, spun off into space, in a grinding orbit that might take a couple of years – the centre of a universe, but kind of cold and lonely at the same time. Me and the baby, floating together in a killer embrace, sharing one oxygen tube and instructed not to return until we’re sensible and all this liminal madness is over, and we’ve worked out up from down and regained ordinary gravity. Maybe when school begins.

So, despite the nagging guilt and worry, I feel fairly defiant that going to New York for no reason except fun is a bold leap out of my chains. The baby will be fine, Rhys will be fine. There’s a chance they might even be a whole lot better than fine, and this will be a great step in their own relationship. I might arrive back more able to wear motherhood more lightly, which would be very nice.

I am voluntarily relinquishing being the centre of the universe, and going off as a blinking satellite to drink cocktails and have a thanksgiving. There might be sketching and flea-shopping and losing myself in a bookshop. There might be sobbing and fidgeting and looking at photos of my boy and wishing they’d FaceTime me. There might well be leaking. He might get a protest-temperature and have a five-day tantrum, but he probably won’t. He might get quickly accustomed to my absence and hardly miss me, and I’ll feel better and worse than I could imagine.

I’ll be giving thanks for freedom, and I suppose that freedom might be quite a complicated sort of thing.




  1. I am a grandmother of 11 grandchildren and when I raised my two sons that’s right I love and grandchildren from 2 sons LOL I learned early on how important it was for me to have little getaways. Yes there was guilt at times thought in time our sons came to understand and even look forward to me going away and it was only for 2 or 3 days at most but I came back re-energized and I was a much more present and loving mom. I would do this 2 to 3 times a year. I remember once when my youngest was 7 years old putting his hands on his hips looking at me sternly and saying isn’t it time you went away on retreat. I remember laughing out loud and thinking to myself you know what he’s right. We forget we need to fill our well before it runs dry. It doesn’t take much but a little R&R makes us way more present to everyone we love in our life. Go and enjoy

  2. You’ll be fine, Dad and baby will be fine! Enjoy yourself.

  3. Hannah, whatever you do, DON’T feel guilty about this mini adventure! Enjoy that time. If you need to, look at it as a time to re-energize your self. Parenting is work… at least as much as 3 full time paid jobs. You need to do this and when you get home you will have a fresh outlook and some ideas for later family adventures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *