My sons are away this week. They are spending it with my Uncle Alex and Aunt Margaret- with whom I used to spend weekends as a child and who happen to be the sitting president and first vice president of the Dovie-is-a-wonder foundation, a not-for profit organization based in Tema. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have such help; they don’t know how right they are. I am; I truly am. They have been wonderful. Not only do Dovie, and now Vini as well, spend days at a go with them being overindulged, overfed and adored, Kofi and I also get the royal treatment whenever we are there. In fact we spent the first 3 weeks post-op with them and were waited on hand and foot; a major factor in how it is I recovered so quickly and so completely. It is, without a doubt, because we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us that we stand tall.
So this week I’m traipsing around Accra masquerading as a young, single, childless woman and I’m loving it. It has been a delightful and most effective way to de-stress. Of course, the delightfulness lies primarily in it being an impermanent and voluntary situation I can reverse with a simple hour long drive. I doubt I would be rhapsodizing were it otherwise. The time our sons spend in Tema has proven very good for our relationship. My husband and I are all over each other. Sharing a space without our children takes us back to our dating days (when we lived in iniquity and the wicked pleasure that is bestowed by vice). That revisit gives our relationship a shot in the arm that helps it to thrive. With nothing to distract us from ourselves, we get a chance to enjoy each other thoroughly. The first night we didn’t go anywhere or do anything special, we both just slept- a full night’s sleep, what a total luxury!
This week I feel so free. I can walk faster without the baby hanging in front of me, I can go to the ‘corner-corner’ retail heaven where I shop in Mammobi, and I can go out and do everything I have to super-coordinate when the boys are home spontaneously. Its divine. Being frazzled and bothered takes away a lot of the joy in being with your children. So whenever I need me time or we need us time, I send them off. While they are gone I get to refocus on what’s great about them and miss them. Often some incident will inspire a wave of ‘child-sickness’ that makes keen the desire to bring them home, and by the time they get here, we are both in love with them again. (This time it was a Pampers ad with newborns and a cute toddler at the mall.)
The first time I took Dovie over to Tema, he was three months old. All week I was excited he would go away. I was too young to be held hostage by motherhood I said. I intended to celebrate to the full my temporary relief from my responsibilities to this very demanding master. Kofi and I made great plans of chilling, clubbing and sex and couldn’t wait to get them underway. But when the weekend finally came along and I took him over, I found myself unable to leave. I dallied till it got late and Auntie Maggie actually asked me to go home, at which point I began to cry. I cried all 20 some kilometers home and by the time I parked I was bawling. That first night was spent in a swirl of self-pity and loneliness and melodramatic misery. Kofi, to his credit, rallied and tried to seem to be having fun but Dov’s absence was so tangible he couldn’t keep it up. Eventually he abandoned the effort and joined me in the pits of gloom and we spent the first night extolling the incomparable virtues of our son.
By the time we woke up though, we were both better and starting to feel keyed up by the possibilities the weekend held. Not having to get up to feed or change or soothe during the night did a good job of drying my tears and cheering us up. We spent the morning just lying about taking pleasure in being alone together. Then, naturally, we moved on to said ‘great plans of chilling, clubbing and sex’. I cried again the first time the holiday extended from a weekend to a week.
Now though I’m a pro, an old hand. I can take them there, give a kiss to each, hop in my car and bugger off, singing all the way to Accra. I no longer need to spend a few days psyching and bracing myself to send them away. My decision to ship them off this time was made impulsively on Tuesday morning. So completely at ease is my family in my Uncle and Aunt’s home, bless their hearts, that I didn’t need to give even an hour’s notice.
Aside from the restoration of connubial privileges, very little I’ve done in this breather week is in and of itself exciting or fun but I’ve had such a blast doing them. I’ve painted parts of the walls in the bathroom, much to my help’s amazement- no madam paints anything, least of all a bathroom. I’ve wrestled Kofi (shocking poor Veronica nearly out of her wits – the boss and madam are ‘fighting blows’), I’ve followed him around on some work errands and just generally fluttered around the city like an unfettered bird.
Kofi has missed the kids in an o-I-wish-they-were- here way. I haven’t, not yet. I miss them in a pleasant what-lovely-children-we-have way. But because I have now learnt to share my children, because I know, accept and feel no shame in needing time off from being the central force in two little people’s lives, and because Uncle and Aunt are so very good to them, I don’t waste much of my holiday time thinking about them. I use it for what it is intended; I think about me.
By Sunday, I will have missed them sorely in a-come-home-to-me-my-children-let-me-hold-you-and-never-let-go way. Typically, on the morning of their return, I bug Kofi from the moment my eyes open for us to set out. ‘Aren’t we going to get the boys, its getting late’ I whine. Yes, I do have the time of my life on my holidays. But I enjoy their ends perhaps even more than I enjoy their beginnings. I will be as glad to be with them in 2 days as I am that I am not tonight and they will have a better mother for it.