A Day Without My Baby
It was 10 a.m. on a Tuesday in springtime when we made an unexpected U-turn downhill into a vast field of long-harvested barley, the remaining of which was golden crisp stems, waiting to revive once the Norwegian summer came back. I took off my boots and walked barefoot along with the marks of a tractor’s wheels still visible across the field.
The sky above me, for the very first time in a very long time, was so wide, blue and serene. I’d not had this feeling since I had become a mother—the appreciation of peace, freedom, and space to be myself.
A million times I had passed by fields like this before, not once had I had the time, the freedom, and the guts to just break from my daily boring duties to do something so spontaneous. But that day was not just any ordinary day. It was my day off from motherhood—after almost one and a half years of constant sleep deprivation, nursing and cleaning poop, struggling with the baby, self-doubt, depression, stress, fights with hubby, wishing I could turn back time, and so, so much more.
Becoming a mother soon taught me that whatever I needed, I’d better demand it. No one would voluntarily offer to take care of my baby for me, or help me with housework or draw me a bath or anything of that kind. Surprise birthday and Christmas gifts didn’t excite me anymore, and vacations sounded more like a dream than a feasible plan.
I gave my husband ideas for my birthday gifts that he could share with everyone else, so I could get what I wanted. Then, I described to him in detail what his birthday gift for me should be, and it went like this: A whole day without the baby. I would like to enter every single store on the walking street in the center of Trondheim (a city in Norway that is close to where we live). And for dinner, I would like to have the buffet at this particular hotel where they would serve seafood and high quality steak and stuff.
So there you have it, the reason for my day off.
We had breakfast at a cafe, out and alone (mamas, can you believe it?). A familiar yet long-gone feeling suddenly emerged in both of us: the excitement of being on a date. We did not waste time and drove to Trondheim’s center-right after. I went into every store just to touch everything, like my younger self used to. My husband offered to pay for everything I bought as birthday gifts—I know, he’s amazing—but of course as a responsible wife and mother, I did not waste our family’s money on non-sense. Eighty percent of everything I bought was still for or related to the baby, and the rest was kitchen tools.
The hotel ended up not serving the buffet due to new coronavirus-related restrictions, but we found a different restaurant in loft-style that offered an amazing ribs feast at a reasonable price during what they called “Ribs Tuesday.” My hubby was very happy that I chose this one, because it cost only half what he imagined we would have to spend on dinner. It was a perfect date night.
Before we left the restaurant to go get our baby from his grandparents’ house, I held my husband’s hand and told him this: “Take a moment to memorize this feeling—how wonderful it is to be just the two of us, on a romantic date, carefree.”
Don’t think having a baby is only hard on the mother, and that only mothers need a day off. My husband admitted while driving home that he felt so much more alive and happy as well. He needed it just as much as I did.
We went home to our little one. It felt like we had just lived in an alternative reality or some movie for a few hours, then had to go back to real life. But that feeling, it lingered on for a few days.