The Sleep Over


Three generations of women, two of them built to adore Bella.

I’m sitting on the cusp of another milestone; the first baby sleepover. Suitable motherly type substitute? Tick. Plenty of milk and porta-cot already by the door? Tick. Gut wrenching, nauseating anxiety? In abundance. And this isn’t even happening till tomorrow!

I have put it off and off this sleepover; Bella’s first soiree into the night with her Nani. A few months ago it was meant to occur but I found a convenient reason why it wasn’t to be. Since then, there simply hasn’t been an occasion where we needed the night away but tomorrow we have been invited to a lovely garden wedding and can’t wait to attend. Usually under these circumstances either my husband or I would appear but we have decided that tomorrow we will arrive as a duo.

It has to be said that I have come a long way from the days where I would have happily placed Bella in a catapult had I been convinced she could hurtle safely across the city to my mother’s house. It’s even true that only in recent times, I’ve been known to have a teary in the backyard, longing for just one night of 8 hours sleep. But as that becomes less and less of a reality, I have become all Dalai Lama about it and quickly learnt the art of acceptance. Yes, 4 hours will suffice Earth Gods…. ”Ommmmmm”.

So why now all of a sudden the anxiety? Her grandmother adores her and has even raised four children of her own. I know Bella will “be alright”. All the rationality in the world tells me that she’ll be “alright” but what if “alright” isn’t good enough. What if she’s crying for her Mama in the night and I’m not there? What if she’s reaching for me as she does every night in our bed and she can’t find me? That’s enough to make me choke up already.

I have however decided not to weaken my resolve to place Bella in her Nani’s loving care and it’s all from a conversation I had with my Aunty. “What have you gained from being a mother?” I asked her out of the blue. She had to think about it a little bit but told me in the end that it is the sense of “mother”; that she will now forevermore have another dimension to her that cannot be taken away, that of “mother”. It’s a powerful picture, especially for someone like me who admired for so many years the idols of motherhood; the pregnant woman, the nursing mother, the mystery of renaissance imagery.

For every inch I value this, it reminded me of another set of images I now so often forget. And no, it’s not those of a footloose and drunken summer nights (although I miss those too), it’s the times I’ve shared over the last decade with my husband.

Here my dear friend is where we reach an impasse. The negotiation of the modern woman’s time; how to be mother and wife (let alone colleague) and do it well? How to value all that you have shared with your partner, while at the same time being lioness to your cubs? Once the King of the Jungle, the toolman is often relegated to the other end of the couch, the other end of the bed, the other end….of basically wherever I am!

So tomorrow will be a date for us so that we might remember where it all began. No doubt this will please the Toolman and no doubt Bella will be alright. It’s me I’m worried about.

And if she’s not, mum is under strict instructions to place her in that catapult and fling her straight back into my arms!

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