Here it is, folks. The 7th of September in 2021. And tonight I’m getting my first night off from motherhood in… drumroll please… 22 months.
It might not be technically my first night. Chris is a wonderful man who sometimes looks at me and sees the fire shooting out of my ears and suggests to Auggie that perhaps it’s a good night for them to go sleep on the boat. On those nights — probably a half dozen over the last year and a half — I fall gratefully into bed and sleep until I feel like waking, or until the cat leaps on my face or meows like a maniac outside my window in a rainstorm.
But tonight. Ah, tonight. Tonight, I am in a hotel room in a town that is not my own. This is not the one other night when I went to a hotel room by myself (when Auggie was still a nursing babe), so I will not frantically stab away at a presentation until 2am, then pump milk, then wake again at 6am to rehearse it and pump milk, then give it and pump milk. This is not the three nights that I spent with my best friends from college at our 20-year reunion, dancing like gleeful teenagers at every party on campus and laughing into the wee hours every night, and relishing the one and only ever post-Auggie night with Chris alone, losing our minds to the cover band until we nearly collapsed and then actually collapsing in a college dormitory bed while my breasts exploded with un-drunk milk, then crying in the shower with cabbage leaves pressed over them in the morning. This is not the seven glorious nights when I went to New Mexico on retreat, co-sleeping with a woman who was a stranger up until 5 minutes before I climbed in a shared double bed with her (and a dear friend thereafter), waking each morning at 6am to walk in silence in my desert down jacket to silent practice and silent breakfast and solemn instruction.
This is not those nights. This is a night when I am all alone and with nothing to do but exactly that which I would do if I were all alone. To wit: write a blog post about the very experience I am having (so meta); read my book club book; attempt to watch a PBS show but find it requires too much of me and turn off the TV; listen to no music whatsoever; listen to a podcast about Octavia Butler (author of the aforementioned book club book) but not finish it; text with Chris, just enough but not too much. Rest. Feel my body sink into pillows. Trust that my little boy is in the excellent, loving hands of his father.
This would feel extraordinary, and it is extraordinary, except that the two moms at my office understood exactly where I was going when I said goodbye to them tonight. Their knowing looks spoke of the shared fantasy of just a few hours alone. That weariness of bone and little hands always touching and needing, no matter how precious and beloved.
That is my night. This night! No adventure required beyond that of a cozy bed and no one needing me. Nothing here but a blank page, and whatever I want to put on it.