Last Sunday morning there were no children rippling my calm waters with the skipping stones of their demands. No one
needed help finding Baby Bear or getting the excruciatingly funky seam of their socks properly adjusted.
For the first time in five years, I wasn't awakened by a battalion of elbows and knees, or someone's hot breath on my
sleepy face begging to nurse.
The little people had their first sleepover ever. They packed their Winnie the Pooh suitcase with the essentials and
waited for their beloved grandparents like tiny, expectant prom dates.
The kids suddenly seemed so small and vulnerable strapped into the backseat of my parents' rental car, and just a bit
askew, like we had mistakenly dressed them in our adult clothes or had accidentally dropped them off on a Greyhound
bus next to the guy with the mildewy duffle bag.
My mom mercifully shooed me off after more than enough of my painfully protracted, 10-step goodbye (a hug, a kiss, three more hugs, hand squeezes, wishing them a good night's sleep, gazing at them like they're going off to war and I
must memorize their faces and one more kiss).
Dan and I rode our bikes downtown - rode our bikes like people without a curfew! And despite a harrowing moment where
I tried to dismount while my skirt remained tucked around my bike seat, everything had a subtle romantic airbrushing
to it. "It's like we're hominids again," Dan said cheerfully as we walked into a pub arm-in-arm.
We met up with some friends and stood around sipping drinks, pretending it was perfectly normal to be chatting with
other adults at 9:30 p.m., while a DJ spun tunes that could only be described as "loud," and most likely no one in
the packed room was carrying spare diapers.
It was fun to see friends without the buzz-kill of swiping dangling boogers or managing complicated preschool
relationships. But at the same time, I felt shy and awkward, as if caught in the spotlight that I so naturally
deflect onto my children while I'm backstage wiping their smudgy faces and stage-whispering their next line: "now, tell her you're sorry!"
That night, I had a hard time falling asleep in our quiet house. I wasn't worried about the kids, nor did I wish they
were snoozing just one room over, but it was like something was missing, something as vital and ordinary as my own
And Sunday morning, I had the tangy pleasure of missing my kids, which is like rhubarb syrup - sweet with a sharp, creeping sourness or possibly the other way around. A pleasing, tangy taste on a quiet Sunday morning, but nothing
you'd want to eat too often.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her blog about raising children, chickens and backyard
food at 6,512 feet: 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.