I hate leaving my daughter when I have to travel for work. I just hate it. I can feel the anxiety starting to rise a week before the date and as the date gets closer a sense of underlying panicky dread starts to creep in; a dull hum of underlying anxiety. In an attempt to battle my quietly mounting hysteria and the explosion of clothes on my bed, I slip into military travel mode. There are things to be done if this trip is going to happen! I need lists. I need order.
1. Set school time, bath time and bed time with Nana
2. Bath EVERY night
3. NO screen time!!!
4. Dinners to cook and freeze
5. Wash school uniforms
6. Dog- what to do with the dog?
7. Detangle hair
8. Ballet Classes
9. Leave check for tutor, check for housekeeper, petty cash
10. Gas in car
11. Extra sets of keys
And on and on and on….. In the futile attempt to quell this overwhelming sense of powerlessness, I am determined to lock down the home front. I want it high and tight! How many things can I actually control when I’m far away, beyond the reach of my immediate control? EVERYTHING!!!! My mommy brain screams, everything that has to do with my girl. I have now moved into obsessive control-freak mommy mode! Oh cuss! I really hate leaving my child.
As much practice as we’ve both had, you’d think I’d be better at this by now. I make lists and calls and send emails and forward itineraries. I cook and clean and fret and fold and always wait too late to ….pack. All the while, my caged mommy brain is now pacing back and forth, trying to find a way out of leaving. But go, I must. Why? Because I am a working mom.
Then it’s my daughter’s turn; a week before, my girl starts circling me, asking about the details of the trip and what exactly the plan is. I give her as many details as are in place. I always start with the broad strokes, and as we get closer to my departure, more questions lead to more detailed answers. The plan is pretty solid by now. Three days out, she begins to fret, probably feeling a mix of her anxiety and mine. More assurances that the plan is solid as is the back up plan, and the back up to the back up. We’re good to go…. Until the night before when none of that shit matters!! Tonight is when the tears start to flow and the baby girl just below the surface of the big girl takes center stage. The ‘I don’t want you to go Mommy” plea arrives with tears in tow. No drama, just quiet pleading, which is the thing that of course…kills me! This is when I go to that bottom drawer and pull out my big girl panties!! I put on my easy breezy mommy face assuring her that all will be well. The plan is sound, and we are solid! I review the details, I remind her we’ve done this before and in the blink of an eye, we’ll be back together again. I even throw myself under the bus, reminding her that Nana is here, which means….NanaTime!!!!! We settle down to snuggle and listen to complaints about those annoying booger picking boys in her class. I tickle torture, and then concede its sleepy time. We pray, blessing each other, blessing all those we love and all those they love till all are blessed and loved. Kisses and lights out.
But tonight, like all of my goodbye nights, alone now in my room, I finally release my frightened face. I feel sick and sad deep in my belly, like someone is pulling on my intestines with a little hook, slowly dragging it out through my navel. That dull hard to breathe ache, right in my gut. I do not feel lovely tonight. I just feel sad. I really hate leaving my child.