After my Japanese class today, I met a friend for lunch. We dined in a lovely little cafe with delicious sandwiches and pastries (sort of Japanese meets French) and had wonderful conversation. After a couple of hours, I headed back to the train station to start the trek home. It generally takes nearly an hour and a half to make it from downtown Osaka to our house out here in the "country" (and frankly it's not all THAT rural here). Still, on the trip home I had lots of time to think about how long I'd been away from the house and my family.
I left the house at 8:30 this morning and didn't make it back until just before 4pm. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day with temperatures approaching 60F! It was the kind of day perfect for some farming and I know my husband had hoped to get some work done on the farm, but while I was gone, he was on baby-duty. I've mentioned before that finding childcare here is incredibly difficult despite the fact that we leave with my in-laws and near family. It's just not how things work here. As a result, I was feeling very guilty for being away for so long today. It's worth noting that my husband doesn't resent this at all and he encourages me to go out with friends, particularly while we're here in Japan. He wants me to feel "at-home" and fulfilled rather than isolated.
And yet.....it was soul-satisfying to have adult conversation with an educated and worldly and funny friend. It reminded me of who I am, separate from being a mother, something that I have really struggled with in the last two years. I adore my daughter and feel very guilty every time I even THINK about how mind-numbing I sometimes find day-to-day childcare. I'm sure I feel even more guilty because it took us over a year just to conceive her. Many days I hoped and prayed for a positive pregnancy test and kept telling myself that I'd appreciate every moment of parenting if only I could get pregnant. But then I finally got pregnant and we had our beautiful daughter. Since then, I've spent the last two years trying to reassert myself as I sometimes feel myself slipping away. To where? I don't know. It's almost hard to explain. But after a day like today, one in which I get to learn and meet up with old friends in my Japanese school, and lunch with newer friends in downtown, I feel selfish in the best possible way. I feel renewed and I constantly try to tell myself that it's all worthwhile in the end as it makes me a better - ME.