I just returned home from a whirlwind, five-day trip to Chicago. I never have an easy time when I have to leave my family. When I am at home, I honestly do not think of myself as a control freak -- but I must be to some extent. The lists I make for everyone on what to do, how to do it, and when to do it border on obsessive. (No doubt my family throws them away as soon as I leave.) I just want to make sure that everyone is taken care of while I am away. Taken care of my way, that is. But more than that, I worry that my children will miss me and need me while I am away. I make a fuss because I want them to miss me as little as possible.
Gabriella, being only eight and the baby of the family, shed a tear or two at the prospect of not having me home for five days. I did everything I could to make things smoother for her. I gave her the stuffed bear she made for me at Build-a-Bear to snuggle if she became sad. I wrote down my cell phone number, email address, and how to send Morse code if she needed to talk. Plus she had her Dad and both brothers to take care of her and play with her. I knew I had prepared her as well as I could prepare an eight year old for her mom to take a trip.
They day came for me to leave. I woke up with a heavy heart knowing she would probably cry. In reality? She was sad and cried a few tears but there was no big drama. No sobbing, asking me to stay, or clinging to me as she has in the past. I was so very thankful! I told her I was proud of her and hugged and kissed her face about a million times.
There was a time not too many years ago when I worried about my middle son missing me. He hated when I left town. He would frequently call to see what I was doing, whom I was with, and if I missed him. It's probably horrible to admit this, but sometimes I “didn’t hear the phone” after the tenth phone call. As he aged, he called less. Of course, now that he is a teenager and has his own cell phone, he can call me anytime from anywhere. As I was preparing to leave this time, I reminded him that he could call me if he wanted or needed to talk to me. I barely received a nod in return.
Now we come to my oldest son. It never bothered him when I left. As soon as he found out that Dad was staying home with him, he was fine with any trip I had to take. Even as a very young baby, he only wanted his Legos, toy cars, and Daddy. As he aged, he became more and more independent. When I would call from out of town, his conversations with me were short, quick, and to the point.
So, we reach the morning I leave for my trip. My daughter gave me huge hugs and kisses and told me to have fun. She told me to call her and email her and that she would miss me. My middle son? I couldn’t even wake him up. Believe me when I say I tried. I kissed him and stuck a Post-It note to his forehead, telling him I love him. (Yes, I really did.) My oldest son? He woke up, hugged me when I told him I was leaving, and then asked if I could get him some Mt. Dew while I was there. I frowned, looked at him, asking him where he thought I was going. He assumed I was going to the store. When he realized I was leaving, he told me to forget about the Mt. Dew. (Thanks, honey.) He gave me a one-armed hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a goodbye. I think he was asleep before I closed his bedroom door.
So, why is it that as I left the house, I bawled? Why is it that I felt the need to call them while I was away, yet they never felt the need to call me? When I did call, the only child who wanted to talk to me was my daughter and then her main topic of conversation was how much fun she was having with her Dad and brothers. Of course, she said a few times “I miss you” and “I love you” but mainly, she wanted to talk about her fun. Neither boy wanted to come to the phone to talk. Not once.
I know it means I am doing a good job when they are happy even if I am away. So, why am I the one left crying? Growing up is tough....on Mom.