Jeremy went to Puerto Rico on Thursday for his brother's wedding and he took Magdalena with him. They get back today, which means I was absent from my youngest child for four nights and almost five days. That's kind of a big deal, considering the previous record for longest kid separation was from Miriam, for 24 hours, one time, almost two years ago. I really couldn't tell you the longest I've ever been apart from Magdalena - four hours, maybe? So the last few days have been an adjustment.
But not altogether an unwelcome one. I don't mean this to be an indictment of Magdalena and the everyday tasks she complicates, but maybe it kind of is. Miriam and I had a really special extended weekend in which we:
-played Candyland without having to put up barriers so Magdalena couldn't come and destroy the stack of cards, or swat at our gamepieces. This was pure heaven for Miriam.
-cooked together, without worrying about Magdalena climbing up on the stool behind Miriam and burning herself on the stove.
-cleaned the house (well, that was mostly me), AND IT STAYED CLEAN. You know, because there was no tiny person in residence to strew things about the house at random. Other highlights included the part where I got to scrub the toilet without a "helper" dipping her hands in the bowl as well as the part where I vacuumed without having to maneuver around a toddler who always manages to sit herself down and camp in that one spot I really need to get to.
-went to Wegman's to eat a slice of pizza and a special frosted sugar cookie at their cafe, AND sat upstairs, AND sat at one of those tall tables. Those last two are pretty much impossible when Magdalena is with us.
-went to the library and read as many books as Miriam wanted, and I didn't have to take frequent breaks to chase a one-year-old through the stacks. Also on our special library trip, on the way back to the parking garage, we took the stairs instead of the elevator because we didn't have Magdalena - and thus the stroller - with us. This was Miriam's suggestion, which shows that she was really getting the hang of this "just Mom and me" stuff.
It was so great to just reconnect with Miriam. It really made me realize how much my interactions with her are colored by Magdalena, and I mean that in both a negative and a positive way. I realized that Miriam often (like, really often) suffers from the impatience I am experiencing because of her little sister. I feel bad about that. It's not fair to her.
But I also realized that Magdalena cheers and enlivens our days. Even when Miriam and I were having fun interacting, just the two of us, it almost felt like we were moping around and being too serious because the background squawks and pitter-patter of tiny, busy, mischievous feet was missing.
I knew we were really missing Magdalena, first of all when Miriam set aside the gumdrop from the top of her special frosted sugar cookie for Magdalena, "for when she gets back," and second of all when I found myself going into her room once in a while to just gaze at the empty crib.
So even though it means no more sitting upstairs at the tall tables at Wegman's, I'll be glad to have my littlest girl back.