It’s kind of amazing how much I have missed while I have been traveling over the past week. Before this work trip/vacation, I had only been away from Noah for a weekend, at most. He was a little over a year old at the time, he had just stopped breastfeeding about a month prior, and I was a complete wreck. I cried the entire way out of town, called to check on him constantly, and couldn’t get home fast enough (only to realize that he hadn’t even really noticed that I was gone). Side note- Matt also decided to drop a 50 pound weight on his foot at the gym that weekend and ended up having to have his toenail removed. When I wasn’t calling to check on Noah, Matt was sending me disgusting pictures of his gnarled up toe and arguing with me that he didn’t need to go to the doctor. Seriously! (Additional side note- when I got back and forced him to go the doctor, he got a lecture about waiting too long to see the doctor. I then said a very quick and arrogant “I told you so.”)
This trip, however, not only have I been gone over a week (8 days), but I am in a very different time zone (6 hour difference!!). It has been unbelievably difficult to call at a time that is feasible for Noah’s schedule. When I wake up in the morning, he is at preschool. When I get a break during the day around lunchtime, he is in the bathtub and way too preoccupied with his tub toys to even notice that mommy is on the phone. And when I am done for the day and ready to call home and chat with Matt and the baby, both of the men in my life are fast asleep on east coast time.
I have been able to sneak in a few “Hi Mommy!! I played in the sandbox today!” and “Guess what?! I pooped in the potty!” moments during the week but, for the most part, it has just been Matt telling me about good and bad moments. I realized how much I take the little things for granted. I miss hearing his sweet voice first thing in the morning. He always wakes up and announces whatever he has been thinking about all night. I miss hearing him breathe over the baby monitor- that stuffy-nosed snort that is full of innocence and peaceful dreams. I miss his ridiculously funny comments about random experiences that his little mind just doesn’t understand yet. And, most of all, I miss the constant enthusiasm about dinosaurs and sharks and playing outside and diving head first into life.
On top of all of that, I feel really guilty about the amazing time I have been having. I mean- I’m in Hawaii for goodness sake! It is so incredible here. The experience has been completely surreal. I keep reminding myself about how lucky I am to be here. I have taken over 1000 pictures and I have tried to squeeze in as many adventures as possible. And I so wish Matt was there to experience it with me. He and I have such wonderful vacations together. I did so many things that I know he would just absolutely love. (And, it doesn’t help that I keep texting him pictures of all of the delicious food I have been eating. When I sent him a picture of my oh-so-amazing breakfast one morning, this is the text I got back:
The guilt comes in when I think about how freeing and wonderful it is to be having all of these adventures without worrying about parenting or putting sunscreen on a little person or scheduling everything around Noah’s naptime. (The guilt does go away pretty quickly when I think about the fact that it was 31 degrees and snowing when I left North Carolina. It was 78 degrees and perfect when we landed in Honolulu. Did I mention that Hawaii is amazing?)
And then I find myself staring at the little children playing on the beach. I watch their little faces light up with excitement as they watch the huge waves in the ocean, their fat little hands digging in the sand. I am sure the people that I was with were getting pretty tired of me telling Noah stories and quoting his sweet little sayings. Last time we went to the beach, we got a little close to the edge of the water when a big wave came in. He got drenched and it scared me and him both half to death. From then on, when we talk about the beach he always says, “Watch out. That ocean gonna get you!”
I watched the unbelievably brave women walking the beaches and hiking Diamond Head with often more than one child holding their hands. There were so many mothers and fathers wearing their Ergo Baby carriers while shopping, strolling along the beach, or eating out at restaurants. All I could think about was how terrible it would be to travel (on the 12 hour plane ride) with children and babies. I imagined Noah on the horrifically long flight. He would be running up and down the aisles, crawling over chairs, bugging the living daylights out of the passengers around him, and talking way too loud, preventing anyone within ear shot of falling asleep.
And then, I see these other women doing it with such ease. They make it look effortless. And I wonder if they wish they had left the children at home. Do they ever look at the children and the husband and think, “Man. I really wish I was here by myself.”
When I was planning the trip and Matt and I were trying to figure out if he would be able to come out after my conference was over and who would watch the baby and would we want the baby to come. We decided that Matt would stay home with Noah because we didn’t want to be gone for that long, that far away just in case of an emergency. Matt, being the saint that he is, stayed home and played single dad for a week. His parents, thank goodness, were able to come for a good chunk of the week and I think that made it easier on both Noah and Matt. And I was able to have some much needed and much anticipated alone time. I am sure all of you parents know that alone time is very hard to come by when your kids are little. When we are fortunate enough to have some time to ourselves, Matt and I want to spend it together. There is never really an opportunity to just be by ourselves. This was it. It was incredible. It was amazing. It was everything I expected it to be and more. And now, I miss my husband. I miss my baby. And I am ready to hear someone call me “mommy.”