The first time I had to travel without my daughter, she was 20 months old. I dropped her off at my parents’ house right about nap time. I cuddled with her for a few minutes until she was sleeping. I remember not wanting to leave her but slowly sneaked out and headed to the airport after saying good bye to my parents. I bawled my eyes out the entire way to the airport. I called constantly and Face Timed as much as I could. I cried after each time. The following year, I was not much better. As this was an annual trip, I began to wonder when it was going to get easier. When was I not going to feel both guilty for leaving her and sad I was missing out on things that might happen? I wondered how people could do this multiple times a year and thought that I could never be that person!
As the annual trip is currently underway, I must say only certain things got easier. The good byes are still as hard as ever, but as she is more conversational, our calls and Face Time sessions made being away from her a bit easier. She was now able to tell me all the things she did during her day. Yes, in the past, my mother would tell me, but it was different coming straight from my daughter. I was able to hear her perspective and her feelings versus just facts on the activities she did. While this made me feel like I wasn’t completely missing out, it also made hanging up worse. She now would say I miss you and I love you without being prompted or say it in response to me.
The travel itself is nice because it’s quiet and much less stressful. It is also very odd. As you know, I am a stay at home mom. Lots of times, it is just my daughter and I. I am usually never alone! So to be without my little chatterbox, there is an odd stillness to the trip. There aren’t the 100 “but why?” statements throughout the day, there’s no pleading to eat snacks all day. And I hate to admit it, but in the same odd way, I miss it. I always find myself imagining just having a moment to myself. However, when I have a whole four and a half days to myself, I’m counting down the moment I can hug my baby girl! It’s amazing how that works.
I know that one day I will revel in 4 days of being away. Of course I know I will still miss her always, but as her life expands to include more people and activities and interests, mine should as well. I should include my girlfriends more and maintain the activities and interests I always had. We mothers often revolve our worlds around our children and then don’t even realize that they don’t need us the way they used to. This is why it’s so important, although not always easy, to remember the fabulous women we were before we became mothers. And acknowledge we are still those women, only evolved into fabulous mothers.