Friday, 12 October 2012
This time next week I will be boarding a plane. Just the Small and I. We will be making a flying visit up to the Gold Coast for two nights, to celebrate my sister's baby shower. In somewhere around six weeks' time, a new little life will join our family. My sister will become a mother. Those words are filled with excitement and disbelief for me. Disbelief, not because I ever thought she wouldn't have kids - she will make a wonderful mother - but disbelief in the sense that sometimes I can still see her as a naive 16 year old. She lived in London for a few years in her early 20s, which is where she met her husband, a local boy from the New South Wales Coast. Of course she had to fly halfway round the world to find him. She grew beyond measure while she was away. The naive child in her was left on the other side of the world. She came home strong, independent and confident. The girl was long gone, a woman had taken her place. But woman or not, she will always be my little sister.
And as time rushes past us, laughing in our faces as it goes, for me there is sadness in this little life's arrival too. I will not be there to see them grow. I will see them grow mostly on my computer screen, through email and images and Skype. I will not be there to watch my sister grow, to grow into and blossom in her new role. I will not be there to help my sister, to offer tangible support. Of course there will be plane flights and visits, but not with the kind of regularity I yearn for. My parents will be a short walk away for support and guidance, to see those little arms and legs growing longer and stronger. Something I did not have with any of our children. Not in a geographical sense. Support I have had a plenty, my family are generous, with big hearts. I am blessed. But I have never known the kind of support where you walk down the street or drive around the corner to spend time with your family, so they can marvel at your baby growing before their eyes. I don't know what it's like to call my parents and ask to drop the kids off for an hour or so, so I can go and run a few errands. Or just drop them off so they can have time with their beloved Nanna and Pa. Or have a regular weekly coffee date, family roast or backyard barbie. My little sister gets to do all of that, sometimes with her beautiful husband by her side, and always with her baby by her side. She knows how lucky she is. One day I will be that lucky too.
This trip will mark the first nights I will spend away from Ruby and Cole, ever. Recently when I told my cousin about our trip, she was mortified that this was to be my first night away from the kids in my five years of motherhood. Her reaction was more in line with me having told her I was actually born with two heads and had one removed shortly after birth, a deep dark secret we had been covering up for the past 32 years. Not having a night away from my children has been a matter of circumstance as well as choice. My youngest sister and brother in law live here too, and always put their hands up for babysitting on the rare occasion hubby and I have to go out alone. They also live almost an hour away. They always come to our house because they know it's easier for the kids, and easier for us, even if it's not easier for them. A simple date night requires too much organisation to contemplate. I'd rather have a nice meal together at the dinner table once the kids have gone to bed. If the kids wake in the night, in that half asleep half awake daze, it is me they want. Every time. Because that's the way it's been since they were born. Hubby was no use to them - he had no milk! I never expected him to be up all hours through the night and then front up to work the next day. That was my gig and I was happy to do it.
So while I know I will miss them terribly, apart for two days, for the first time ever, I am looking forward to some uninterrupted girly time with my mum and sisters (while dad is gushing over Eliot and taking him to the park), to rub that big belly, revel in the excitement that is teeny tiny wondersuits and nonsensical itty bitty shoes, and document this special time in my little sister's life. That, I can do for her.
Do you live near your family? When was the first time you spent a night away from your child?