At the crack of dawn, The Mister and I sneaked out of bed. Like an elite, enemy reconnaissance and rescue team, we made no sound and went about the motions in nigh darkness with trained precision.
The Little One was to be left behind, and we were to leave without her knowledge. The poor thing would wake up to missing parents!
It was a day- trip out of the city without the Little One in tow, hence there wasn’t much to pack. Couple of phones, sunnies, iPads, IDs, water and cash. Aah! It was reminiscent of days past.
Of free and flighty days.
Feeling oddly bereft and bitter- sweet, the silence in the car sitting heavy on us; we were ill at ease with our new found emancipation at first. We hit the road, not like the travel junkies that we once were, but like rushed, purposeful business travelers whose eyes are always on the destination and on the clock rather than the way and the experiences along it.
It took a while for the clouds of liberation and the pangs of guilt to settle. Once they did, we transmuted back into the carefree gypsies of yore. We paid heed to the roads and people again, like old days. There were no diapers to change, no baby food to be mixed, no staccato breaks to the drive.
The rising sun seemed novel and promising. Promising a future of love, joy and togetherness. Worries whooshed by as the nippy morning air stung our sleep riddled faces. The weariness of everyday life leaked out of us, and light, fluffy contentment settled in. The burdens of marriage and family seemed light for once, and the simple pleasure of camaraderie and easy friendship seeped into us. We felt young and free (which we are in reality!).
We literally and metaphorically chased the rising sun. We stopped when we felt the urge to eat, click pictures and whenever else we felt like it- just like that! We sorely missed The Little One, she was never more than a veil away from our thoughts, but we were thankful for the little exemptions her absence offered.
As fresh, busy, working parents who are struggling to keep the romance alive despite the thousands of miles separating us, little moments like these are precious. The pressures of career troubles, the restraints placed by time and the sheer incumbrance of responsibility and separation does stretch even the most pliable and compatible relationships.
Time and space have new meaning and significance. The unwashed car on the eve of a long trip, riddled with bird droppings and masked by dust is testimony to the fact that we have changed irrevocably. We did not mind the dirty exterior; our younger, prissy selves would have.
The fingerprint laden, greasy iPad screen is another reminder of change. The unmade bed at home, the overflowing laundry bag, the forgotten camera, the nagging worry; I can go on. From machine and gadget loving, nerdy freak-shows; we metamorphosed into something tangentially different. I am not obsessive about home- cleanliness or order any more. The Mister can live with juice seeping into his car upholstery. Something has to give in somewhere, rather this than our sanity and togetherness.
Freedom is always a gift given by accommodating, helpful family and friends- mostly in the form of reliable, trusty childcare. Steadfast parents become annoyingly overbearing but undeniably helpful and ever ready ‘to-take-over’ grandparents.
The trip was borne out of compulsions imposed by circumstance, but we made the most of it. We made a trip to a another-city- hospital a mini- break. A weekend getaway.
By afternoon, I was itching to get back though. It was as if a part of me was missing. I had left something important behind. She seemed to be calling out from afar. I made half a dozen phone calls in less than half a day.
Alas, there is no switch- off button to parenthood.
I realize, I can never truly be free. From work, family, parenthood…..life. But I don’t crave freedom anymore. Not in the sense I craved for it when I was younger. The defintions have changed. I can live within the constraints life imposes.
Of course I shall often test it’s limits and stretch it every which way I can, whenever I can!
Till next time..