We used to look like them. Be like them. Leaving the dark theatre they hold hands and chat about the movie. I watch as his arm goes around her waist and he pulls her close. Following them down the wide spiral staircase I wonder what they will do now. Stop at a cafe where they will linger for hours over coffee, sometimes reading and sometimes talking? Head for an early dinner at their favourite restaurant? Maybe even go their separate ways, pressing tight against each other for a long lingering kiss before making plans to see each other again soon.
We used to be like that. Once upon a time.
I woke up tired on Sunday. My body was tired, but my spirit was tired too. Tired of everything. The constant going and moving and never stopping. The constant demands and pleas and negotiations. Tired of all of it. The constantness of motherhood.
I want to lie in bed all day. I want to sit on the couch reading a book. I want to curl up in a chair and watch tv without worrying that it is past my bedtime and if I don't go to sleep right now I will have to function tomorrow on less then five hours of sleep. I want to be selfish. I want my life to be about me.
I have these days every once in a while. They sneak up on me out of nowhere and flatten me under their weight of longing. I try to fight them off. Tell myself to keep going, try harder, get through it. But the problem isn't my unhappiness with the life I have, it's that I suddenly and momentarily miss my old life. The life that was just about me.
The husband tells me to go. To go out and be alone. To take the time on this Sunday to regain my inner equilibrium. Or at least to try.
I pause and consider rejecting his offer. As much as I want it, and I do want it, guilt seeps into my thoughts before I can utter a yes. Because as much as I am tired, so is he. Because as much as I want time by myself, time away, so does he.
Okay I say and leave him to an afternoon with the kids. I sit alone in a dark room full of strangers immersing myself in the make believe lives of imaginary people. I laugh out loud. I eat too much popcorn. I ignore the world around me and focus only on the moving pictures projected high above my head. I do nothing but be.
I look at them and I see us the way we were. We would to go to weekend matinees. We would spend afternoons in coffee shops reading and talking. We would go for dinner in restaurants with table cloths. We would stand kissing on the street corner for all the world to see.
We used to be like that. I tell myself we will again. When the kids are older. When family comes to visit. When we find a babysitter. There will come a time when it won’t be one or the other. When the person walking out the door won’t have to ignore the guilt as they wave goodbye. When the one staying home won’t smile and wish it was their turn instead.
Once upon a time.