When I started telling the news to friends that I was pregnant, the second question I was almost always asked was: "Do you have family nearby?"
I found myself always answering with a version of, "No, but..."
"mine is only a drive away...."
"we have amazing friends here..."
I was always met with very sympathetic eyes. And it's true: having a baby without grandmas and grandpas around the corner as built in, on call babysitters is a daunting task. We are both working parents. We sometimes have to travel. We are not always able to drop everything and work from home if need be. And, without a built in, semi-permanent caregiver available to watch her, I wasn't so sure I'd ever be able to let go of control long enough to get comfortable leaving Harper with anyone else.
But, the thing is, those people who gave me such looks of pity didn't know that when I said, "mine is only a drive away," and, "we have amazing friends here," what I actually meant was that our support system, when kicked into gear, is astonishing.
When the slew of wedding invitations started arriving this Spring for a handful of very dear friends of ours, my first reaction was to assume that we would miss each and every one of them. Gone are the days of attending weddings, no matter how close the friend, I thought. But then it struck me that this was my first test to see if I could do what I had committed myself to doing during pregnancy: Ask for help.
So I did. I signed us up for an overnight in June, with Maria and Jon at the helm. As the weekend approached, I was faced with my second test: Accept the help! First and foremost, this meant not backing out. It also meant not turning around. It also meant not freaking out. I can safely say I accomplished the first two.
Our trip in June proved that not only is it healthy for us to step away and remind ourselves of what it's like to just be us, but also that Harper thrives in the loving care of our extended framily. I know it's not true for everyone, but for this little lady, more bonds are good bonds. Her heart has an infinite capacity to let people in. She is relatively quick to warm up, and once she decides you're on the A team, you're there to stay. I like to think that this type of exposure to lots of loving people will help her to be more adaptable and flexible as she gets older.
Since June, I've plowed forward and lined up many of our other nearest and dearest to spend time with her, without us - from Mom to Maureen and Isa to the Faulkners to Dad and Barbara. Each time has not been easy. I've followed through and I haven't turned around but I haven't always stayed clear of panic.
But now, at the end of the summer, Harper is comfortable and happy with a core pack of key people in our life. We have a tribe of loved ones whom we can call on when we need help. And, surprisingly, I've given up control - for several days at a time - and that's been a healthy thing for everyone.
When we came back this weekend after celebrating our anniversary and a friend's wedding in Colorado, she looked from each of us to the other, and then to the Faulkners, in the same way she has following other overnights away, as if to say, "you are ALL here with me?!?? SCORE!"
So, to Harper's village: thank you...for being such loving and wonderful presences in her life, and for putting up with my neurotic, micromanaging, overbearing tendencies from afar. "Grateful" doesn't really sum it up.
And, this week in particular, to the Faulkners: thank YOU...for giving Harper an awesome swimming, golfing, piano-playing vacation that came with two fantastic older siblings.
Have you ever seen a happier baby than this one at Camp Faulkner?