I still feel a thrill every time I get ready to go on a trip. Maybe more so now that I’m a stay-at-home mother — the last couple of years of my career I didn’t travel as often as I did in previous years and I miss that. So I’m in that adrenaline high right now of packing up for a plane ride… BY MYSELF. Let’s face it, it is much different packing up to go on a (quasi) business trip than packing up to go on trip with the family. I’m headed off to BlogHer and I won’t be taking a car seat, a portable DVD player, Matchbox cars, crayons, any Leap Frog toys, etc. Just my own overstuffed suitcase.
But the question everyone asks me is, “How are the kids going to handle it?”
And the answer is — just fine! My kids really are perfectly fine with Mommy being away. So fine, in fact, that if I didn’t know better, I might actually get my feelings hurt. But here’s the thing, I’ve worked really hard at instilling a sense of confidence and independence in them, and I take their lack of hysteria when I leave as a sign that I’ve succeeded. Which is not to say that when other children have separation anxiety there parents have done something wrong — every child has a different personality type and every family has a different dynamic. Who knows what would happen if we threw a third child into the mix?
My involvement in volunteer organizations takes me out of the home for evening meetings and the kids have gotten used to me leaving some evenings and them having time for Daddy. There are no tears, just hugs and kisses goodbye and goodnight as they are often asleep by the time I return home. Having spent the entire day together, they are fine with me leaving, and now having Daddy-time.
The first time I ever was away from JavaBoy overnight, however, was when JavaGirl was born. I was a wreck. He didn’t seem to mind at all — he had his grandmother to play with! He did, however, miss his father the second night (JavaDad stayed with me in the hospital as I was in a lot of pain from the c-section) and asked for him at bedtime, but then settled down. But for the most part, he basically understood where we were and why, and that’s all that mattered.
Over time I’ve had a few opportunities to be away from the kids for retreats or conferences and every time, it’s been harder on me than them. They’ve always been perfectly fine – I’ve always prepped them well in advance and then called home to make contact and that seems to work. They have a pocket calendar we use to mark everything that is going on and I made inserts for an airplane leaving and an airplane returning, so they’ve known about my trip to Chicago all month. JavaBoy counts the number of days I’m going to be gone, JavaGirl asks me every time she sees a plane in the sky if that is the airplane I will be on. A week ago, Java Boy made a drawing for me, and proudly told me it was a picture of the two of us and he made it so that I could have him with me on the trip. It’s been on the fridge and tonight he reminded me to take it with me so that if I needed to remember him, I’d have it. Not with a worried voice or a sad voice, just his practical, matter-of-fact voice. I assured him I’ll never forget my boy. (How could I??)
He then filled me in on all his big plans for things he’s going to do while I’m gone. Whew! Sounds like I’m getting out of town just in time! Good luck JavaDad!
My mother once told me that I was always so thrilled to go off to school that it sort of hurt her feelings, but she took it as a sign that she had done something right. And now I understand what she meant — my kids rarely look back when I drop them off or when I leave. But if I ever I doubt their devotion to me, all I have to do is open the door upon my return and feel them run towards me and wrap themselves around me while yelling, “Mommy, you’re back!”
Yes, I’m excited to go on my trip. But come Sunday, I’ll be equally excited to come home.