Last weekend, we went to Delhi for a family wedding and came back sans Ayaan. Since I was going to be heading to Jaipur for the Diwali week in just five days, it didn’t seem to make sense to lug him all the way back to Mumbai. Plus my mother always craves for some alone time with him without my interfering presence… so he went off to Jaipur with my mom while we headed back to Mumbai. Overall, we were quite excited about having some time to ourselves for the first time in two and a half years.
I am writing from a plane, headed towards a reunion with my son after a five day separation and I have to say it’s been an interesting and revealing five days. The most surprising thing has been how much I have missed him in these days gone by. I have been away from him longer on my travels but this time, I felt the separation much more intensely than I ever have. Because this was the first time since he was born that I have been home when he wasn’t. It just didn’t feel right – it was like there was an Ayaan-shaped hole in my house and in my life.
On all the five days, I actually stayed in office longer than I needed to. Since Jai was working late or travelling, it was positively depressing to come home to a dark, empty house. Especially since I have got used to being greeted by my little eager beaver who responds to the very sound of my key turning in the lock and comes running to greet me with his toothsome grin and a ‘bick (big) huggy’. I always knew that my homecoming was one of the high points in Ayaan’s day – now I realise that it is the high point of mine too.
It was not all bad, though – there were some upsides to this mini-break from being parents. I managed to go to my fitness class every day for some heavy-duty guilt-free exercise.
And on Tuesday, Jai and I finally went on our first dinner date in two and a half years. Since the nanny leaves when I get home, we have never been able to do this and most night outings have been limited to one of us going out with our respective friends. Our ‘dates’ have usually been lunches and movies grabbed on Saturday afternoons, so this made for a refreshing change…
Somehow when we go out for lunch, I don’t feel a need to dress up and tend to just hop along in whatever outfit I’ve chosen to wear for the day. But dinner is different – so I came home from work, bathed, put on some fancy clothes, slapped on some lipstick and sprayed myself with my best perfume. It just made it a lot more special than a Saturday lunch can ever be.
Also, our Saturday outings are pretty slotted in terms of time. I like to give Ayaan his lunch before we leave and be back before it’s time to take him to the park. On Tuesday however, we got dressed in a leisurely fashion, had a relaxed drink at the hotel bar before moving on to dinner and didn’t even look at the clock once during all this time. We had a nice, aimless conversation throughout, largely sticking to our ‘no talking about Ayaan ban’.
This brief time-out also got me thinking about how we tend to mourn over our carefree, baby-free days in a manner that is almost half-serious. But I have realised that in many ways our quality of life has actually improved after becoming parents.
- We eat a lot healthier. I already wrote in my last post about how we eat a much greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables than before. We also order in and eat out much less often. This week, I completely reverted to my old habits - on Monday, I ate a bowl of instant noodles; on Tuesday, we went out for Chinese; on Wednesday, we ordered pizza and yesterday, I ate at a friend’s place and we ordered Indian food, in all its greasy, calorie-rich glory. I think I need to detox!
- We actually spend more time together now than we did before. Before Ayaan, both of us were certified workaholics (Jai still is) and used to drag our weary souls into the house just in time to eat dinner, watch some TV and collapse into bed. Now, we both make an effort to be home at a more acceptable hour and though a lot of our time together also involves Ayaan, it’s no less fun and intimate thanks to the shared moments of amusement, pride and frustration that abound when we are together as a family. Actually, that’s the difference – earlier, we were a couple and now we are a family – cheesy and clichéd as it may be - and I like this better.
- We watch much less TV because there is a blanket TV ban during Ayaan’s waking hours as opposed to switching it on the minute we get home. I used to be quite a couch potato in times gone by and in the last week, I slipped back into the habit with complete ease, randomly surfing channels even though I knew there was nothing worth watching.
Overall, I am happy to be heading back to meet my darling son. Armed with the absolute clarity that I did the right thing when I decided to have a baby. I knew then that I’d never regret it and I know now that I wouldn’t have it any other way…
Update: I couldn't post this yesterday due to connectivity issues. Ayaan came with my mom to pick me up at the airport and he was satifyingly thrilled to see me - he shrieked at the top of his voice, ran into my arms and gave me the tightest hug ever, followed by some seriously sloppy kisses. The welcome almost made the separation worth it - almost but not quite :)