When I worked at my last (almost full-time) job, I did not go out a lot without the kid for the mostly obvious reasons: I felt guilty missing the few waking hours I had with her, and I really just missed her. That is why while at my last job, I often talked coworker friends into two-hour lunches or leaving at 3 p.m. for early happy hour; I hardly missed any evening hours with J and I still got to have grownup fun.
One would think when you have not worked regularly for over two years, the guilt of being away from your kid would lessen. But if you know me and how my mind works, you would know it really has not and it goes beyond money.
At swim lessons last week, two moms and I were talking about how when our husbands spend time with the kids (or kid, in my case), although we are grateful to have that time alone, we often find ourselves missing our kids, wishing they would hurry home, or in my case, often joining in on whatever Bri and Jordan are doing. Fortunately (for lack of a better word), because J and I have been driving each other crazy with all this time we have spent together over the past month, I am a little more willing for just Brian to spend time with Jordan. But for the most part, I still am with her, willingly, a lot.
Last evening, however, I made some real progress. I met up with a bunch of former coworkers at that German place in the South Side (that I am too lazy to Google to get the correct spelling). The past two summers 8 to 10 of us would meet at this place for a few hours, and both times I took Jordan. But this year, it was a big gathering, in honor of a former coworker, and I decided to leave Jordan at home. And you know what, as I walked out the door (and even when I first got the invite) I did not feel guilty.
In fact, I had originally considered coming home by 9, to kiss my kid good night. But at 8:30, I was have such a nice time catching up with these people, some of whom I had not seen in probably four or five years, and enjoying my German beer (mmm, dunkel) that I decided my kid would be just fine without her good night kiss from me.
And you know what? She was. And, more significantly, so was I.
I am not ready to meet friends for happy hour every week or even every month (mostly because of money), but I am going to try to get out there more and let go just a little bit. Baby steps.
Wish me luck!