On Thursday morning, a friend of mine invited me to go as her plus-one to the Sundance Film Festival in place of her husband. The catch was that I would need to leave on Friday, and I was going sans husband and baby. In order to understand just how difficult a decision this was for me, you have to understand that I love films, and I’ve attended the Toronto Film Festival twice, the Montreal Film Festival, and the Sonoma Film Festival. Sundance is the festival of all festivals, and not going would be like saying I don’t like films. I had to go, but how could I? How could I leave my husband to take care of our eighteen-month-old all weekend by himself, when he has to take care of him all week while I work? How could I ask my husband to have absolutely no break? On top of that, will my baby forget who I am while I’m gone? What if he doesn’t miss me? Or even worse, what if my husband discovers he doesn’t need me at all, and he’s perfectly capable of taking care of our baby without me? It was just four months ago that I really couldn’t leave my baby and husband alone, and I liked that. I couldn’t leave them because I was the milk supply. That is no longer true, and I can’t help but feel not as needed, and a bit left out.
Anyhow, guilt and fear of rejection aside, I took this once in a lifetime opportunity and went to Park City for a grand total of seventy-two hours. On Friday afternoon I hopped on an airplane by myself with only a purse. No snacks, no toys, no stroller, no change of clothes, no duck blanket, and no sleep sack—just me, my purse, and my knitting. It was wonderful. I sat on the plane without a care in the world. I didn’t care where I sat, how close or far back I was, or even how long we sat on the runway. All I cared about was that I was completely alone. Is that awful? I got off the plane and my weekend began.
It’s quite amazing how quickly I fell back into being my own person, and doing my own thing. I think the biggest difference was that now as I went through life I noticed other parents and babies. I actually feel like this has only enhanced me as a person. As an example, we went to see a movie, and I was suddenly noticing that other parents had brought their children. It made me think, If they can do it, why couldn’t we? Then I was at dinner and there was a couple who came in with their sleeping baby in the stroller. Problem was, there was no room for the stroller and the waiter wanted them to take the baby out of the stroller regardless of the fact that it was asleep. Surely, this person was kidding—what do they say, “Never wake a sleeping baby”? I immediately started thinking about how I could help. Well, it ended up working itself out because the baby woke up on its own.
After enjoying the rest of my weekend seeing movies, and flying on the plane one more time by myself, I came home to my family. My baby didn’t forget who I was and my husband, although he did just fine, did miss me, and did make me still feel wanted and needed. But I think the most important lesson I learned this weekend was that having a baby truly enhances your life in ways that you didn’t know existed. I have a more complete understanding of other people and what their lives might be like. You can only gain that kind of knowledge through experience, and I, for one, am happy to experience it.