By: Jane Samuel
Last week I took our middle daughter out of town for four days to attend her close friend’s confirmation – in another country. Despite all her healing I still worried this trip would be too hard on our youngest – now ten-years-old and adopted at one. Luckily for her – and I – she was naïve as to how far away I would be (a long plane flight) and only knew I would be back in “four sleeps.”
As I prepared to leave I thought about the distance we had covered since the days when at one, two, three-years-of-age she would have walked off with the Maytag repair man – and did in fact affix herself to the leg of a stunned contractor as he tried to leave our house one afternoon after fixing our washer. I knew then I couldn’t leave her, even though she seemed to care less if I did or not.
Or the days at six, seven, eight-years-of-age when we moved into, “Mom, don’t leave me!!! I can’t sleep without you.” I knew then that I couldn’t leave her, because now we finally had an inkling that she did care, that she was attaching, and I wasn’t going to let her down no matter what. We didn’t even bother to go away, or hire sitters for years, unless we knew we would be back home two hours later for me to put her to bed. The times we accidently stayed out too late we would arrive home to find her still wide-awake, her ever-hypervigilent-soul waiting to see the whites of Mom’s eyes before she closed her own.
Or the past two years when she had done enough healing that she cried just a bit when I had to drive across state after state visiting colleges with our oldest. I finally could leave her, but made sure it was only for a night. And I called a lot.
Now, last week, we were finally at a time when she could hug me good-bye as I dropped her at school and more-calmly-than-not state, “I wish you didn’t have to go. Couldn’t you just send Dad in your place?”
So I headed to the airport with our middle one, more focused on getting us to Europe in one piece – with our passports and cash still tucked safely away – than I was about our youngest falling apart. I knew she would be okay. That she knew I was coming back. That – barring any tragedies – I would be back in her room to read her a story, sing her three songs and kiss her goodnight in four sleeps.
Having no ability to call turned out to be a bit more troublesome to me than I had expected. I had always been used to being able to call at the end of her school day and at her bedtime to make sure she knew I was still her mom. Now I was miles away, with no long-distance card, and limited Wi-Fi. I itched to send her a text on her new little iPod. I mourned the loss of her voice over the phone line. I longed to be able to Facetime her and let her know I loved her. The emails I sent instead to my husband seemed insufficient. I worried she was dysregulating. I worried that she would think I had left her forever.
I shouldn’t have worried so much. She did have a moment or two of upset, but calmed down, my husband dutifully reported. She did tell me after the trip that she had been afraid I would die. “Understandable,” I told her as soon as I could hold her again, “it is scary when Mom goes away. But I am home now!” And she seemed okay with that.
But the best indication that she had survived was the message on my iPad the second night I was in Denmark. I was just getting into bed and noticed a text on it from earlier in the day. “Mom. I luv u. BMITW,” it read.
I didn’t tell her I had to have her older sister decipher it. It didn’t matter. I was now BMITW status.
“Woot! Woot!” As they say here in the south. I am not only her Mom; I am officially – despite leaving her for four sleeps – the “best mom in the world!”