I’m typing this on a train (please to blame any and all typos on a particularly bu-u-u-mpy stretch of tra-a-ack), on my way to a conference in another city, trying to count the number of entire nights I’ve spent away from my children. It hasn’t been that many, yet it hasn’t been that few, either.
Some mothers break out in the sweats and shakes at the idea of leaving their children for long stretches of time. For me, well, I have to admit that I only felt that way when I was breastfeeding. (Nature OR biology or whatever does a damn fine job of wiring the postpartum female brain into sticking around in that regard.) Once they weaned, I was almost instantly fine with browsing hotel and travel sites, ready for a chance to hand them over to the grandparents while I slept the hell IN.
Well, kind of. Leaving a baby for the first time – really leaving, for overnight or more – is a big deal. I’d even say, in my experience, that leaving said baby for the second time is even HARDER, because you know just how badly you’ll miss them and how you’ll swear they look different when you return and how much it stings when you don’t exactly get the joyous happy greeting you were hoping for on your return. And any time you have to leave them before they reach an age of understanding – when no matter what you do or say to them, you’re still essentially just really leaving them to figure it out your absence on their own – it’s hard.
I guess if I want to be Little Miss Useful Columnist, I’d include a list of Handy Tips! And Ideas! To Make Travel Easier On You Both! Have your caregiver wear your clothes! Bring five gajillion photos! Buy them things! Bring along Skype and a webcam! (Okay, that last one is actually something we do all the time.) But really, it’s…okay. Babies and kids are resilient little buggers. It’s us neurotic types who need the handholding and extra hugs, maybe.
I put Ezra down for his nap before I left today – I spent a ridiculous extra amount of time snuggling with him beforehand, to the point where he was gesturing madly at the crib, like, I AM TIRED, WOMAN, LET ME SLEEP. I asked for extra kisses and had a momentary moment of panic and guilt at the door, knowing he’d just…wake up to me not being there.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Noah – who is now really old enough to understand that Mommy and Daddy sometimes go on trips for awhile – and got hit with another wave of guilt because I was just springing the news on him. He asked if I wanted to play Candyland with him, and I explained that I couldn’t right then, and that I had to go on a trip and would be back tomorrow night after bedtime. He thought about this for a second. “So, you’ll play Candyland with me THEN, right?”
I said yes, and he said okay.
When did you first leave your baby/child/children overnight? How old? How long? Were you a mess of nerves or simply couldn’t get out the door fast enough? Has it gotten easier with each trip, or only easier if you’re leaving them to go to a tropical paradise as opposed to say, a business conference in Cleveland?