A friend called me recently “We are all meeting next Saturday at 3, to lounge away the evening and then hopping over to a happening place in the city for dinner and dancing. So and so and so and so are flying in to join. You must come.”
I went through a familiar emotion triggered automatically when anyone invites me to anything fun (other than a birthday party) – I call it the ‘pain and promise’ moment. It’s auto launched whenever I am invited to anything which doesn’t include Mini Me and I would like to go for. My mind slowly unwraps a room full of boxes with rather arrogant, conflict ridden, possibilities revolving around “How will Mini Me manage without Mama?”
I decided to fight the urge to decline this time around, I needed the break and Mini Me would be fine. “Maybe I can come from 3 to 8” I said as my friend protested why I couldn’t stay longer”
As divine confirmation, another friend called later inviting Mini Me to a birthday party at 5 pm on the same day. I was delighted – half the guilt erased itself, basking in the knowledge that Mini Me would be enjoying herself more than me during the same time. My parents were enlisted immediately to baby sit and ferry her to and fro from the party. This plan was discussed in great detail and Mini Me was gently told the news that “Mama would not be there and Granny would be taking you to the party”.
Mini Me was as conflicted – Mama not being around on a weekend was a bit like the end of the world. However the birthday party was for kids only, with a very well-known friend so Mama wasn’t really needed around anyway.
Both events were confirmed and all the preparations were made. I found myself looking forward in anticipation to the Saturday, heading up the roller coaster and laughing at myself for feeling excited at a simple Saturday meeting. Come Friday evening, after getting told off by Mom for repeating the Saturday instructions a third time around, I cuddled in bed for our regular story time routine. And then came the phone call “So sorry, we have to call off the birthday party because the birthday baby is down with the flu”
I was on the downward spiral of the roller coaster now. Mini Me was not going to be happy – no mama and no birthday party. How would she manage without Mama? Granny had her hands full for sure. The guilt meter shot straight up breaking previous records. I was very close to cancelling my plans.
“Just go for it” said my Mom looking at my miserable face the next morning. “She’s with us. Why should you be worried?” I thought through a few other guilt elevating options – invite another friend over? new toy? play date? “No” said Mom firmly…”these cannot be the option when you need to leave her for a few hours. Plus, its good for her to learn to also find something to do herself”
2:30 pm I left in a rather deflated state – Mini Me waved a cheerful goodbye to her sour, guilty looking mother. I couldn’t recall the days when I would leave home without a thought in my mind. I reached the venue and every so often when conversation ebbed, stepped out to call home. Fleeting thoughts of what must be happening at home kept floating through my mind.
For the long wait up to the event, the day passed very fast. After 6 phone calls home and 5 hours later I reached back home. I was greeted with a scream of delight and as fast as she came running to me, she vanished back into the house. I followed curiously to find Mom and Mini Me watching Frozen surrounded by what looked like a missile bombed toy cupboard. I tried to enquire how the day went only to be hushed by both immediately. I sat down and let the guilt roll away – I had been carrying around the baggage and it seemed now to melt away in satisfied relief that the planet was still in its orbit.
I saw homework on the side, neatly done and a dress laid out for church next morning. I saw new works of crayon art left on the side table and that dinner was done already. I hugged Mini Me as another familiar feeling rose within me – the one who was dependent on Mama wasn’t just her, it was also equally me.