It didn't start to sink in until we bought the tickets on Tuesday: I am leaving early Tuesday morning and won't see my boy for 11 days. I had no idea the ensuing panic and worry and longing that would happen as we nailed down the details about this upcoming trip.
Of course I'm glad that the next step is happening in getting our little girl here. But Abe is so little, and what was I thinking leaving him like this? Two summers ago, I went to visit a friend for three nights, and I cried off and on the whole flight to Colorado. This is going to be on the other side of the globe.
I keep sending texts to my sister, reminding her of little things about Abe that she needs to know. Things like: wear nice smelling lotion at all times because he really likes good smells. Other things about who his favorite friends are. And things like how generally wonderful and magical he is and to please cuddle him a lot and often and tell him how much I miss him every moment I am gone.
I was exhausted yesterday after a long busy day, yet as I started to drift to sleep, the thought of Tuesday morning made my heart race. Really race. And I know there's some stigma attached to it, but I'm going to say it anyway to make others not feel guilty: I took something to calm me down so I could go to sleep.
Someone I see as a sort of mom-mentor reached out to me in my panic. Here are a few of the things she wrote, all of which made me cry, including today while sitting at my desk at work.
I would do anything to help ease those panic attacks...if I could. I totally, totally, get it. the hardest part of traveling twice to ET to get my kids was the leaving my little boys home. I mean, I broke down more than once, before and during and had a total panic attack the night before, tucking them in.
However, adn please remember this: they were fine. They got through it better than it did. And they understood and understand that I would travel across the world for my kid (one of them was the kid, the first time)...nothing would keep me from my kid if they needed help getting home.
Abe will get that. He will. His heart already knows it.
You'll be ok mama. And I'll be praying for you and for Abe too, the whole way (fwiw).
Then today, this email, the one that made me break down at my desk at work:
...They still seem so vulnerable. And your mama heart and mama bear self frets to leave them. But really, think of it, think of the hands you are leaving him in: your sis. She is family too. This will make Abe stronger and bring him, well, eventually, the greatest gift you will ever give him other than your own bottomless love: his sister. That is worth it. Worth even your xanax. Thank God for xanax. No kidding!!! Hooray for meds. Use it. No kidding.
I wish I could take away the dread of this trip. I so know it's icy grip. But it is only the hounds of hell howling in your ears.....shut them up, kick them out. You ARE strong enough to do this and you will, bc Abe is strong enough to do this, and little B needs you more, now. And therein is your first REAL step into being a mom of more than a singleton. And therein lies the triage you will do, reflexively, the rest of your life. And you can and will and must. And it's good. It teaches Abe that he is stronger than he knows too, it grows his heart. And I promise, sweet dear Lori, that you ARE strong enough to get thru t his, maybe w/ xanax and your dearest girlfriend along for the ride, ugly crying the whole way...its' all ok. These trips are EVER ever so different when you have smalls at home. They are brutal but even in that brutality and sheer ripping of your fibers at the go.....there is such beauty and you find a deeper place in yourself lori. And it's there, we all see it even when you don't. It's reflected in Abe's eyes and sureness as he leans into you.
When it gets too hard. Oh...this weekend and Monday, just do the next thing. Go on autopilot if you have to. Do the next thing. Fold the shirt, flip the laundry, fill the tank with gas. Do the next thing. And the next thing you know, you'll be in addis and then, even then, your heart will be in your throat and you'll shake and then you'll...do the next thing. Do it. You so can. I know it.
It helped so much to know that others have felt the same way as I am feeling as I get ready for this trip. But no one told me it would be this hard. I'm telling you now: if you have a little one at home, the anticipation leading up to going to meet your next child is one of the worst feelings you will ever feel. You want to meet your next child, but you feel this angst about leaving the little, and then you feel guilt about feeling the angst because of course the new child is just as important as your current child.
It's the triage she referred to. I wasn't prepared. Not one bit.
At work today, one of my Eritrean clients came just to give me a gift to give to his daughter in Addis. This client is usually all smiles, all joy and peace. But when he handed me the small purple cloth bag and the phone number of his daughter, he looked down and covered his eyes. When he looked back up, they were red and full of tears. Parents should not live so far from their children, not even when they're almost 80.
If nothing else, these 11 days are going to give me a small taste of what these seniors feel every day. At least for me, I know my return date. For them, this is a possibly permanent separation, no hope of reunion until heaven.
I don't know how they bear it. I guess their days are filled of "doing the next thing."