"But what are you doing about her hair?" seemed to be the question uppermost on the minds of my female colleagues when they found out that I had Josie to myself for a week while Lynn & Marian were off at a convention in Seattle.
Actually, I'm pretty good with her hair. And Marian left me clear instructions -- each day's outfit was in a separate plastic bag on which was written "ponytail" or "hair down" so I'd know what to do. Marian has complete confidence in my ability to care for Josephine -- she has less confidence in my ability to pick out the appropriate clothes to enhance her cuteness.
Marian also left me two pages of instructions -- details of getting her to dance class on Tuesday afternoon, and to her Gymboree class on Thursday, along with the requisite phone numbers & chart numbers for the doctor. Overall, Josie made it pretty easy. She had a major "missing Mommy" meltdown on Tuesday morning and sobbed all through her bath, but once she got that out she cheered back up and I could hear her singing along to Little Einsteins while I shaved and took my shower. She didn't give me a bit of trouble about going to bed on time in her own room.
I did manage to get some work done at the library -- I took Thursday off, but kept pretty much to my regular schedule the rest of the week, dropping Josie off at school about 8:00 every morning and picking her up at the end of the day. But I was definitely distracted. It was a stark reminder of just how much compartmentalizing a parent must have to do in order to focus attention where it needs to be. I had the luxury of being able to put the rest of my life pretty much on hold (I kept my meetings to the bare minimum) and devoting all of my attention to her. I didn't let her get away with anything (I'm very good at holding to the Mommy rules), but in the evenings I let her make the decisions about what we were going to do (which turned out to be a mix of playing with puzzles, reading stories, and watching Peter Pan or Shrek 2, along with the occasional playing at being tigers).
Lynn and I had gotten cameras for our laptops, so we were able to make video calls a couple of times -- Josie was quite excited to see Mommy & Nonni on the computer. The first time we got it set up, she went running downstairs to get the trophies she'd won on Sunday (judges' choice for "most beautiful" in her age group in the photogenic babies contest). And then she spent much of the call writing "Mom" on little slips of paper and holding them up to the camera.
Thursday morning we went to the zoo -- rode the train, did the camel ride, saw a great big alligator move (mostly they just sit there), visited the new kangaroo enclosure, took a look at her favorite tiger. We were passing the butterfly house and she said, "Oh, can we go in there?" And we did and she found a place to sit and we sat very quiet for a very long time watching the butterflies. "They're so beautiful!" she whispered, over and over.
So we had a good time, but she was sure glad to have her Mommy back by Friday night. And I hear via Lynn that she's being a real pain this week. Not entirely surprising, I'm afraid. My Mom sent me a note in which she mentioned the first time she and my Dad went off on a vacation by themselves (he'd won a sales manager trip) when my younger sister was three. We stayed with my aunt, and Carrie was pretty well behaved, but when my folks got home, Carrie really gave my Mom a hard time -- how dare you go off and leave me like that!
When I look back at our week in San Francisco (nearly two years ago now), I have a handful of mental snapshots that I love to look back on -- Josie at the Matthew Barney exhibit, or playing in the fountains in the Yerba Buena Gardens, or talking with the Chinese women on the Embacadero, or sitting with me having lunch at the little Italian place down the street from our hotel. Sometimes, when I'm falling asleep at night, I'll shuffle through them just for the sheer pleasure of it. At the time, one never knows which moments are the ones that are really going to stick with you. They're not always the most dramatic things -- sometimes what sticks is a moment you barely paid attention to at the time. I don't know yet what moments from last week will be the most memorable -- but I do know that I will often go back to revisit them, and will always be grateful for having had that week.