Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Separation Anxiety

29th September and 22nd - 25th October 2009

This post is somewhat out of synch with the rest, both in terms of day published and dates it covers.  The topic is just very fresh in my mind at the moment.  And besides, what's the point in having something so monumentally self-indulgent as a blog if you don't self-indulge every now and again?

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It's Monday, a little over two weeks since Alex was born and it's time to go back to work.  I am, to put it mildly, dreading it.  It feels like a combination of going back to school, dereliction of duty and selfishness all rolled into one.

Going back to school is an obvious parallel.  For all the last two weeks have been tiring and stressful, they've also been two weeks without work.  At this point in the PhD if I never saw it again it would be too soon, so I've enjoyed not having to deal with it for a fortnight.  Dragging myself up at 6:45 and trekking into the office is the last thing I fancy right now.  Still, it has to be done, so I'm doing it.

With that comes a sense of desertion, though.  Nic's mum is staying with us, but it still feels like I'm abandoning Nic.  Up to now we've been a team.  We've shared changing, bathing and entertaining duties.  Now I'm leaving Nic to cope on her own and I feel bad about it.


But there's also a horrible, selfish part of me that thinks "wow, nine whole hours without being on duty".  Even when Alex is asleep, there's an added level of stress that being a parent brings.  At the office, that stress is gone.  He is, and this is a horrible thing to say, someone else's problem.  What sort of warped soul do I have that I'm glad to be leaving my son for a day?

In the end, it is both easier and harder than I expected.  Easier in that the routine of work comes back instantly and it seems normal to be there.  Harder in that I spent every other minute wondering how he's doing.  It turns out that I'm NOT glad to be leaving him for a day!  It will be a couple of weeks before I'm really used to going away for more than a few hours.

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Flash forwards to last Thursday.  A long time ago, while Nic was only just in the "pregnant but not telling anyone" stage, I booked tickets to go and see the NFL in London.  We hadn't even made it to twelve weeks at that point, and I didn't want to tempt fate.  Not booking tickets would have been tantamount to standing under a ladder, smashing a mirror off my head while kicking a black cat and shouting, "hey, Fate, bet you can't harm my baby in the womb!"  Now Alex is six weeks old and I'm off to London.  He's going up to Aberdeen with Nicola.  It will be the first night we spend apart.  Once I head off to work at midday, I won't see them again until Monday evening.

Again, I'm rather torn.  I know I'm going to miss them, but I'm also rather looking forwards to a whole night of uninterrupted sleep.  Then I'll get to go to London, catch up with friends and see the NFL.  Sounds like fun, right?  And it was, sort of.

It really started to hurt on Thursday evening when I found Alex's hat lying around the kitchen.  Oh dear, he's been gone for about six hours and I'm getting emotional over headgear.  Nicola suggests that every time I feel miserable, I go to sleep, thus enjoying the peace and quiet.  I spend a lot of time in bed.

The next evening, I meet up with friends, get drunk and play cards.  Very drunk in fact.  Two months of no alcohol have left me with no tolerance and the drink makes the pain go away.  The next morning I regret it rather severely.  Still, at least the hangover gives me something to think about other than how much I miss Alex and Nicola.

To be honest, I don't know how good company I was in London.  For all that I loved seeing Doug and Mairi again, I was only half there.  The other half of me was up in Aberdeen.  Kew gardens, the NFL and the hustle and bustle of the big city all pass me by in a blur.

On the train home and for the few hours I'm back in Dalkeith before Nicola and Alex arrive I'm like a teenager waiting for exam results they know they've failed.  Churning gut, misery and restlessness.  Every time a car passes the house I perk up like a spaniel after a bag of weed.  I bought Nic a bunch of flowers as a welcome home present.  I worry that they're drying out as I wait.

Finally they arrive home.  It turns out that Nic has got me a welcome home present too.  Alex has learned a new trick.  When I take him out of his car seat and hold him close he breaks into a broad, beaming smile.

I am whole again.

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