Yesterday I sent my dissertation chapters to my supervisor.
Today I packed my bag.
In 48 hours I will be at the airport, heading across the pond, and leaving E., my most beloved son, on the other side of an OCEAN for two weeks.
I am, not to put too fine a point on it, losing my SHIT over this.
Logically, rationally, I know that E. will be fine. He will get some extra one-on-one time with his Daddy. He will have myriad grandparents all eager to take him to the park, or build towers with his blocks, or flatten him like a pancake.
He will be, in all likelihood, spoiled rotten.
I know this.
But, as I keep trying to explain to Q., who is, I suspect, a bit hurt that my leaving is causing me so much stress and anxiety and misery, how I am feeling has nothing to do with whether or not I trust him to look after E. (of course I do), and only a little to do with whether or not E. will miss me (although I must say the toddler development books I’ve read which advocate not separating from your child at this age for more than a night are not helping).
It’s really about me.
Even thinking about getting on that airplane makes me feel like my heart is being ripped out of my body.
The best way I can think of to describe it is to say that it feels like I imagine it felt like for Lyra and Will when they visited the Land of the Dead and had to leave their daemons behind (if anyone who reads this is also a Philip Pullman fan).
Rationally, of course, I know that E. is not truly part of me but is his own autonomous (adorable) person.
The way I’m feeling right now doesn’t have a whole lot to do with reason and being rational.
Irrationally I worry that either my plane or theirs will plunge out of the sky in a giant ball of flame.
Irrationally I worry that I will scar E. for life by leaving him, that he will hate me for doing so.
Irrationally I worry that he will change and grow so much in those two weeks that we are apart that I will feel like I no longer know him.
It is the mama bear instinct rising to the fore, awakening and grumbling and growling. Stumbling out of hibernation. It is my deepest, most instinctive, primeval self that is speaking when I try to explain to Q. how I feel and I can’t get the words out before I start to cry.
This child, my child, is most precious to me.
Leaving him, getting in an airplane and flying away from him, crossing a fucking ocean while he sleeps in his crib, with his bunny draped over his face in the ultimate lovey-eye-mask combination?
I can’t say it ever struck me like a great idea, but now that the reality of it is very much almost here?
It is killing me. My anxiety is through the roof.
I’ve started telling E. about what will happen. We’ve got the globe down to look at where we live and where we were visiting Auntie L. and Auntie C. and where Q’s family lives, and we’ve looked at where Mummy is going. We’ve talked about how I’m going to get on an airplane (E. quite likes that bit) and his Grannie and Grandpa and then his other Grandpa are going to come and stay with him and Daddy. And about how a few days after that he and Daddy will get on another airplane (E. quite likes that part too) and come to another airport and I’ll be waiting for them.
I’m making some videos of me- reading a story, singing his favourite songs- so he can watch them if he needs some Mummy time while I’m away. We’ll plan to skype unless that makes things more difficult for him.
I have been obsessively planning the packing for months now. I packed E’s bag two days ago (yes, the bag that he won’t be needing until next month). When I asked Q. if he would mind if I left him a list of what needed to be added to the bag and what needed to be done with the house and the cats before they left (all things that I’m quite sure Q. would have been more than capable of handling himself even if he probably wouldn’t have picked quite the same clothes for E. that I would have), he said he’d be worried I wasn’t myself if I didn’t.
Nothing’s helping much. I’ll at least be keeping busy over the next couple of days since in a fit of
genius insanity I decided to have E.’s birthday party the day of my flight. It’s in the morning and my flight is very late at night- so late that I won’t have to leave to go to the airport until after E.’s asleep. Even so, I’ve belatedly realized that this probably wasn’t my smartest plan. (The alternatives, however, were to make Q. organize the party after I’d left, and I was SO not ok with missing my son’s second birthday party, or to have had it last weekend, which would have been almost a month early, which I thought was too much.)
I know we’ll survive. It will either work well, or it won’t. We’ll get through the days, and eventually I’ll be back at the airport waiting outside of customs to pick up my boys.
But on the edge of it, right now, I just wish it wasn’t happening.
There is no way out but through.