Guest Post: First Night Away From My Son

Illustration by Linda Helton

Should I? Or shouldn’t I? When a colleague asked that I be her proxy on a media tour of the luxurious Vintages Hotels in bucolic Niagara on the Lake, to be wined, dined and refined at the hotel’s Secret Garden Spa, well, I hesitated.

I’d yet to spend a night away from my young son. After broaching it with my husband (“You owe me…” he said.) I pushed the overnighter out of my mind, but as the day drew nearer, I began to feel this subtle pain near my heart. I juggled my son’s childcare ever so slightly and dropped him off at daycare—he cried, I cringed. Back at home, collecting my bag, the anxiety level rose in my chest and I imagined ways to cancel the trip. Stepping towards the door that leads to my car felt weird and out of body. It never helps that I hate driving too, but after 90 minutes I arrived in breathtaking Niagara on the Lake.

At the Prince of Wales hotel, I’m greeted with a glass of champagne, and seated beside a mother whose son has the same name as mine. In fact, mothers, ones who empathize but think it’s okay to leave your child for a night of good wine and food, surround me. Just like being at work, I slowly forget about parenthood. Reminiscent of 30 Rock‘s Liz Lemon who on workplace suspension insists she can handle being away from the office (Not!), I lap up a facial, take notes during the wine tasting and sample foie gras blended with vanilla syrup. That night I sleep fitfully, maybe from the drink but also because the glorious king-sized bed would be perfect if my son’s dad were there.

I wake at 7 a.m.—the exact time my son rises—and nurse my head with coffee. While puttering about the opulent Queen’s Landing, I pass a beautiful impressionist-style painting of a mother and child. The pain above my heart returns, practically jumping out of my chest as I remember: “I’m a mother!” After lunch, I hit the road refreshed but eager to get back. At his daycare, it takes a second for my son to hear me call his name, the teachers point towards me. Our eyes lock, he laughs and almost knocks over the toddler next to him as he chimp-walks towards me.

This mini-mom moment—90 minutes away, mid-week when I wouldn’t be with my son anyhow, and with little impact to my husband’s schedule—was the ideal first step. Maybe dad will get his wish for a weekend in New York, sans child. We’ll see…give me a bit of time.

—Jacquelyn Francis, executive editor of FASHION magazine

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