You know those weekends that happen sometimes that are full to the brim of lunches and dinners and walks and house-guests and catch-ups with old friends, and you never stop talking or laughing or hugging or lining up for the shower or saying "I have really missed you!"... ?
I had one of those last weekend. We had a big charity ball on, organised by Mr B and his team at work (I'm talking 1300+ people), and a whole lot of our dear friends travelled down to Melbourne to dress up and party with us on Saturday night. Most of them stayed for the weekend and some extended their stays from Friday to Monday. It was wonderful and chaotic and all too short.
On the night of the ball, our family booked a room in the same hotel as the function, because we knew it would be such a late night. Neither of us got to sleep until after two-thirty in the morning, which would have been fine if Madeleine hadn't been such an angelic sleeper, slumbering away in her little travel cot next to our bed (cuddled up with pink bunny and pink bunny blanket and looking like something you want to kiss forever and maybe eat), which meant she happily woke up ready to play at six. Welcome to parenthood, Naomi.
So there was nothing for it but to get up and play with her, then take it in turns having showers that never ran out of hot water (bliss!) and head downstairs to introduce Madeleine to the joys of the breakfast bar (she had scrambled eggs and honey on toast and water melon and banana and yoghurt and a sip of my tea).
By nine o'clock Madeleine was rubbing her eyes and ready for another nap. Oh, sweetheart. By that time Mr B and I could have told her a thing or two about being really tired. Mr B stayed behind at the hotel to meet up with some friends who were coming around a bit later, while I tucked little M into her pram under her polka-dot sleeping bag, and walked her home through Melbourne's Sunday-morning streets.
All of a sudden, after the cacophony of crowds and friends and disco music (yes! and an ABBA tribute band!) and giggling babies and goodness knows what else, the solitude was tangible.
Madeleine was snoring before I made it across the road. The pavements were shiny from last night's rain, and mist residue clung to the tops of the skyscrapers. The river was still as stone. And other than me, not a creature was stirring. Not even the proverbial mouse.
Other folks who spend their days and nights with little ones will know what I'm talking about when I say that I no longer experience solitude, not even for a moment (no, not even on the loo). Even when I walk Madeleine normally, it's in busy areas or my own town where every second person knows my name. And I do love my community, but...
But to suddenly be alone in the big city with frost in the wind and my footsteps echoing on the pavement and everything washed clean and new... it was a precious gift. I walked slowly, ever so slowly. And I smiled.
Then the spell broke and we got home and Madeleine woke up and we raced to catch our friends to meet them for lunch and it was all chaos and laughter and joy all over again, and I just felt so lucky for my friendships and my solitude, and especially my family. After lunch they all packed off to the AFL but we headed across to the playground at the museum and something rather wonderful happened.
Madeleine walked! For the first time! And we just so happened to both be there to witness it, and I just so happened to have the phone out and so captured the exact moment on trusty Instagram. Insanely proud Mama moment.