Surrounded by fabric and wilderness, I listen to the whir of nine sewing machines and imagine it's my own Walden Pond.
Wait, that's not quite right.
So my husband has charge of our four girls, three horses, three cats, one dog, five chickens. Oh, and one more little girl who's visiting. I have charge of myself. Myself.
That's not quite right either, is it?
I wonder whether he'll make them wear the hair bows I set out for each outfit. I wonder whether the baby will wear clothes at all. Ooh. Maybe they'll do that early potty training thing that was so popular a few years ago. You know: Watch your newborn's face intently 18 hours of the day. Learn the "look" for bathroom necessity. Run the bare-bottomed infant to the toilet. Save the Earth.
I'm not knocking it. I'm just sayin'.
I wonder whether they'll be free range children for the weekend. You know: Watch your kids not at all because they're not gonna get snatched anyway and we're hovering too much as a nation of parents, instilling fear where they should have freedom. Or some such thing. Let them run around unattended and they'll learn independent thinking and self-reliance. Or some such thing. But this is directly contradictory with the hawkish intensity of watching for the bathroom face. I'm so confused. Also I'm thinking it sounds more like the latchkey kids syndrome, only deliberate and in-your-face instead of furtive and born of financial necessity.
I'm not knocking it. Well, okay, I am.
When I stopped at the post office this morning, a woman I didn't know was walking from her minivan to the door. Her jeans-sweatshirt-sneakers ensemble was appropriate for the 50-degree rainy day. Her baby (2 years old at the oldest) was in short sleeves, capris and bare feet. Walking on the gravel parking lot.
I hung my head, actually dropped it in a hurry, and then smacked it on the steering wheel.
What's wrong with my sense of live-and-let-live? I thought of pinworms (or whatever kind of creepy crawlies kids get from walking barefoot in unclean places). I thought how cold that gravel would feel on baby feet, picking their way through as mom's hands pulled you along. I thought of selfishness (hers and mine) and shame (the lack of it, the presence of it that wouldn't let me speak). I thought of getting out of the Suburban to scoop that baby up.
I thought of the way I was leaving my children for two days to do something all for myself. I thought of how blessed I am to have a "village" of family and friends and people who love me enough to love my children. I thought of how blessed I am to have a tribe of children who love me, whom I love, 20 or more little smudgy faced babies who tromp my farmyard and crowd my house with laughter and tracked-in dirt.
What if that woman in the parking lot doesn't have anyone to tell her about her baby's feet? Oh, and I'm not under any illusion that she shouldn't have known better. I'm trying to say that as friends we tell each other the hard stuff. Don't let your babies be cold and bruise their toes on the parking lot in February. It's mean, or thoughtless at best.
We shouldn't ever have charge of just ourselves, should we? I'm glad for the getaway and grateful. I miss my children just enough and I know I'll be a better, more attentive mom/neighbor/wife/village member when I go home.