Joel left on a business trip to China on Saturday morning. Last Saturday. One week, two days, and twelve hours ago. Not that I'm counting or anything.
I dealt with the encroaching reality of this trip much the same as I dealt with the idea of having an actual real live baby during the end of my pregnancy: denial. Complete and total denial. Every time I did think about, Gloria Gaynor lyrics started playing in my head. Except I wasn't really sure that I would survive. All I knew for sure is that I was afraid, I was petrified. So I just stopped thinking about it. May dwindled away and I just kept telling myself we had lots of time left; he wasn't leaving until June! LALALA CAN'T SEE YOU, CALENDAR. Even the day before he left, I told my friend I'd be fine over the weekend! He wasn't leaving until Saturday afternoon! Yeah, his flight left Saturday AT noon. From Dulles. He left the house at 9am.
When it became clear that this trip was really going to happen, I told myself it would be fine because I'd just pack up Hannah and visit my mom in New Jersey. Or I'd guilt her into coming down and visiting me! Easy peasy. Pretty sure that's what parents are for. And then my mom reminded me OH HEY already booked a non-refundable three-week trip to Turkey, SEE YA WOULDN'T WANNA BE YA. (Not exactly how she put it.)
That first weekend was rough. For some reason, being alone on the weekends is infinitely harder than on weekdays for me. That makes no sense at all, because for me weekends and weekdays without Joel are pretty much indistinguishable. But still, I have this sense on weekdays that I'm playing hooky, getting to do whatever baby-friendly things I want while everyone else is at work. On weekends, all I can think about is how Joel should be home but he's not and he's not coming home and I'm all by myself forever and there are NO BREAKS EVER.
Saturday was OK. Sunday was lonely. We have a pretty great system worked out wherein Joel wakes up with Hannah and she plays downstairs while he eats breakfast and gets ready for work. In the meantime, I sleep until 8:30am, when Joel gets in the shower and heads to work. At 9 I put Hannah down for a nap and eat a leisurely breakfast. I don't really go on duty until 10 or so, when she wakes up. (Please don't hate me, this is after months and months of getting up approximately 50 times a night.) Do you know how much longer the day feels when you start at 6 instead of 10? MUCH, MUCH LONGER. And for every minute you wake up before 6am, the day feels an additional six years longer. Unfortunately Hannah decided that 5:15am was a great time to wake up on Sunday. By 8am I was so desperate to see another human being that I went to the farmer's market and just wandered around, even though we didn't need anything and I didn't have any cash to buy anything even if we did.
But then, approximately three decades later, Monday came! And by the next weekend I'd gotten into a pretty good solo parenting groove. We had a playdate on Saturday, and even with no plans on Sunday, that sense of crushing despair didn't creep up on me even once. And now, here we are: less than twenty-four hours from Joel's return and I'm feeling like, you know what? That went pretty quick. It actually wasn't so bad. Except for the unholy five-oh-something wakeups every day. Would it be wrong to give Joel the early shift the day after he returns? He'll be so jetlagged anyway, what's one pre-dawn wakeup on top of a twenty hour flight?
The brilliant thing about the timing of this trip is that I am no longer the least bit anxious about taking the munchkin to Vermont on Friday. Before this business trip I was biting all my nails off just THINKING about taking a baby on a plane. Now? Pshaw. Two adults entertaining one baby on two one-hour flights with a short layover in between? That almost sounds easier than trying to wrangle a diaper bag, an umbrella, and an angry baby who had to get up an hour eary from her nap to make it to her nine month checkup through the pouring rain by myself. Which is how I spent my afternoon, FYI. Seven adults and one baby crammed into a three bedroom house for five days? That's six other people who are so excited about meeting Hannah they'll be happy to play with her at five fifteen in the goddamn morning.