Dear Jo: Alone Time (sort of)

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May 18, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

Today you escaped for some alone time. Do you remember back in the pre-kid days when you didn’t need to escape for alone time? You just stayed home. Now home is the precise place where you get no alone time. Paul encouraged you to spend a few hours to yourself though you knew you’d be lucky to have a few hours. You left immediately after nursing Lyla and since that’s when the countdown clock started. You had two, possibly two-and-a-half hours before you had to be back for her next feeding. You vowed to work on getting her to take a bottle, but you doubted that would change. Emerson never took to one and Lyla seemed to be following his example. Most days it didn’t matter. You were always there with them anyway. But sometimes it would be nice not to be bound by a little person’s feeding schedule. Of course even if you did get her to take a bottle and you did spend time away, you would still be bound to a pumping schedule.

Dear Jo: Alone Time (sort of)
As soon as she finished feeding, you handed her to Paul to burp and headed to Lula’s to grab some coffee and just breathe. You thought about taking a book with you, but you didn’t even have a book to take. You hadn’t read anything more than picture books since Emerson was born and you weren’t going to take “Goodnight Moon” with you.

Not much had changed at Lula’s since the last time you had been there. The eclectic furniture and artwork were the same as you remembered. You ordered a cappuccino. You already had your coffee for the day, but you hoped that an extra cup wouldn’t make that big of a difference. Then you wondered what it would be like to someday consume food without wondering how the baby would react to it.

You took a seat in the over-stuffed, high-back purple velvet chair in the front window. You sat and sipped and it didn’t take long for you to feel completely awkward. You adjusted how you sat. You cradled the coffee cup in your hand until it got too hot, so placed it back on the table. But then your hands felt empty without something in them. You wondered how you used to feel so comfortable here. Then you remembered: you always came with a book, a laptop or a friend. You had never before sat in a cafe with nothing to do or distract you. You had never just held a cup of coffee and looked out the window.

The window seat gave you the opportunity to people watch, so you sipped and stared, making up stories of those strangers’ lives, imagining where they were going and where they had been. You looked at the time, thinking you probably needed to get home, only to see you had been gone a half-an-hour.

You resumed the people watching and that’s when you saw a familiar face: Emily. She didn’t see you as she reached for the door, lunging over the stroller that held Luke. She couldn’t quite reach the door with the obstacle in her way, so you jumped up and opened it for her.

“Thank you,” she said as she exhaled, not yet realizing it was you. Her focus was on maneuvering the stroller and Joel through the door.

“Hey, Joel!” you said, taking his hand to help him through the door and out of his mom’s way.

“Oh, hey!” Emily said. “Where are the kids?”

“At home with Paul.”

“Alone time?” she whispered.

“Yep!”

“Jealous. Don’t let me interrupt. We were on the way to the park, but I had to get some coffee and pee.”

“Mommy didn’t go before we left the house,” Joel tattled.

“Yes, Mommy managed to forget,” Emily said, as she rolled her eyes.

“Here, let me take the kids, while you go.”

“No, it’s your alone time….”

“Really. Go to the bathroom. Get some coffee. We’ll be right here.”

So you watched the kids for her. It only took a few minutes before she was back with drinks and snacks.

“So get this,” Emily began, while Luke drifted to sleep in his stroller and Joel dug into his bear claw. “You’re never going to guess what this one did, while I was nursing Luke this morning.”

“This one” seemed clueless as he munched away on his bear claw.

“What?” you asked.

“Well, the good news is he didn’t poop in his diaper.”

After months of potty training, this was quite an accomplishment. Joel quickly got the hang of peeing in the toilet (especially if he had Cheerios to aim at), but for some reason the kid refused to poop there.

“Wow! That is great news!”

“But wait for the bad news. He didn’t poop in his diaper either.”

“Okay….”

“He used the cat litter box.”

“You’re kidding me. What…? Did…? How…?”

“That’s pretty much what I said, too. He came running to me all proud that he didn’t use his diaper, so I ran to the bathroom to celebrate with him. Then he said, ‘No, Mommy! It’s in Figaro’s box.’”

You couldn’t stifle the laughter. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be laughing.”

“At this point, what else can you do? That’s pretty much why we’re here. I had to get out of the house after that.”

“Are you talking about me?” Joel asked.

“Yes, yes, I am. I’m telling Ms. Jo about what happened this morning.”

“I didn’t poop in my diaper,” he said, proud of his accomplishment.

“That’s true, buddy, but next time let’s use the human’s toilet, not the cat’s,” Emily said, rolling her eyes without Joel noticing.

You talked for a while longer as Luke continued his nap and Joel busied himself with the remainder of his bear claw and then moved on to toys he could find buried in the stroller. Neither of you noticed right away that he had taken Luke’s stuffed bear, lifted his shirt and placed the animal at his chest.

“Whatcha doin’, Joel?” Emily asked.

“Feeding Mr. Bear,” he said, as he looked at his plush child. Then he looked at you, pointed his finger at your chest and said, “You need a bib.”

As you looked down, you felt what had caught his attention. Your mind had lost track of time, but your body and especially your breasts hadn’t.

“Oh, no,” you said, reaching for a napkin, but instead opting to wrap yourself in your jacket to cover the leaking mess. “Guess that’s my cue. Alone time is over.”

You quickly said your goodbyes and headed for home. Before you even opened the front door, you could hear Lyla’s cries. You didn’t have time to change out of your milk-soaked shirt and bra. You were late for your appointment and Lyla wasn’t going to wait for you to change into something dry and more comfortable. You took her from Paul and she immediately turned her head towards your breasts before you could even lift your shirt. Once she settled in to feed Paul asked, “How was your alone time?”

“Really good,” you said.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom

“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


 

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Motherhood Doesn't Come with Sick Days

{Photo credit: ©Ross Van Overberghe}

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