Yesterday Bruce and I had our first time without Gracelyn by our sides. While some of you might think, “She’s 14 months old, it’s about time” we didn’t feel any kind of urge to “get away.” What we did want, however, was to reintroduce couple space into our family (just like we have family space, mama-baby space, and dada-baby space). We also wanted Gracelyn to experience the joy and peace of being with other loving, trustworthy, and familiar people. Our vision was that this would fortify Gracelyn’s knowledge that the world is a benevolent place and she can trust us to only entrust her care to trustworthy people.
How did it go?
We talked with Gracelyn earlier in the day to explain what was going to happen that afternoon. When our friends Billy and Adrian came over, we all spent time together getting connected (Billy and Adrian had been with we three two or three other times for several hours so G knows and likes them already). Finally a few minutes before we planned to depart, we reminded Gracelyn of the plan and asked for her to be really clear with her communications with her babysitters since they might not understand her as quickly as we do. Then we went over a few details with Billy and Adrian (it really was just 5 or so things we told and asked them 🙂 ). Finally we put on our shoes, gave our baby kisses, and headed to the car.
As we backed away, she began to cry and looked so pained that it was difficult to follow through in leaving. Then we immediately got into an argument because I thought Bruce saying that his heart hurt leaving her like that was his way of saying it was easy for me to leave her. Fortunately our spat was very short as we both simply heard one another and acknowledged how we ache seeing Gracelyn in pain of any sort. I suggested that we hold a vision of this being a very positive experience for Gracelyn (and for us) and seeing her having a great time with Adrian and Billy.
We went to a nearby coffee house for coffee and hot chocolate and a shared chocolate croissant. It was weird to be alone AND seemed both strange and pleasant to carry on an uninterrupted conversation (except for the text messages, of course 🙂 ). I’d asked Billy to text a few minutes after our departure to give us a status report. Below is the back and forth conversation via text:
- 16:50 Me: How goes it? Did G stop crying?
- Billy: She’s happy, eating organic pineapple, talking to the KA [cats]. [audible sighs from mama and dada and excitement for seeing a photo] Can u get pix on your phones if I send?
- Me: That’s our girl. Yep to pix.
- Billy: Smiles. [great photo of a content Gracelyn comes through; mama and dada laugh]
- U can babysit anytime. See y’all in a couple of hours! (kidding) [our plan was to be gone about 30 minutes]
- Billy: Ha! Do take your time, tho. All is well.
I texted again as we were headed home. All total we were gone for about 45 minutes.
When we returned, Gracelyn excitedly greeted us as we came through the door yet her energy was calm and happy rather than frantic and worried. Billy and Adrian recounted that Gracelyn had cried for 15-30 seconds after we’d left but then found herself enchanted by the cats, fall leaves, and the company of her two caretakers. She would periodically call out “mama” or “dada” and look around for us and Adrian and Billy would reassure her we’d be home soon which seemed good enough for her.
I’m thankful that it all went so well and that our visions were fulfilled. We’re blessed to have loved ones like Billy and Adrian who any child would be delighted to have around. We’re blessed with a sweet child who knows when all is well and can feel the comfort, love, and security surrounding her. We’re blessed to have each other and have the time and space to give our relationship some nurturing. So for us, 14 months and 5 days was precisely the right amount of time to wait before asking Gracelyn to be home alone.