One more week. That’s how long I have to wait to go on my first real vacation since the birth of my daughter, three years ago. I call it my first “real” vacation because to me, hauling a toddler and 100 pounds of gear to some destination requiring hours of driving just to do the same thing we do at home – take care of said toddler – is not really my idea of a vacation. No, this one is different. Just my husband and I, flying across the country to do one of my favorite things in the world – explore a new city, completely free. Unencumbered, without an eye on the clock or a diaper, liberated. Liberated from the multitude of demands in my normal life as a working mother. Strolling at large through the city streets, sleeping as late as I wish, eating wherever I choose and not having to avoid eateries where boisterous toddlers are noticeably absent. This is how it used to be…before she came along. For three years, I have found myself longing for that sovereignty. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter. But I am basically a selfish person, a hedonist. Three years of having no time to do anything just for me, the things I love to do, have left me feeling desperate for a healthy dose of independence.
But as time draws near to board that flight, I realize something. I cannot be free of myself. I brought a little person into the world. She is me… at least fifty percent of her. She is perfect, amazing, hilarious and delightful in every way, and even when she is none of these, she is still me. And so from the day she took her first breath, I became one of the many we call parents, who live life with their hearts outside their bodies. And how can we do anything and feel completely whole when we are separated from that which is the most vital, fundamental part of us? I will still go on my “vacation”, but I will know that for all the destinations on all the globe, with her is the only place I will truly ever be free.
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