The next two weeks are going to be really tough for me. I’m approaching the time of year where I pack up my baby girl and send her to see her father who lives out-of-state. She’ll be gone for over a month. It’s like my heart has a gaping hole in it. People always say that they’d love to have a break from their kids. I agree to an extent. With a long break like this you don’t have to deal with bad behavior, discipline or neediness, but you also miss out on the smiles, hugs, kisses and everything else that makes parenting so amazing.
I joke that I spend half of her visit crying, but it’s probably pretty close to the truth. I find it incredibly difficult to be around my friends with kids when she’s gone. It’s like pouring salt on an open wound. My friends are so sweet and I think they believe that surrogate love is comparable to my daughter’s love. I am appreciative that they don’t let me curl up in a ball and stay put through her entire trip, but nothing fills the void. Nothing is supposed to. My daughter has a unique essence that is all her own and the world seems like it’s upside down until she gets back.
The tricky part about this is that once again, it’s not about me. This trip is about meeting my daughter’s needs. She needs to know that she has a father who loves her and she deserves to spend time with his side of the family. As much as I want to be able to be her everything, I realize that there will be benefits in her going on her trip (as long as the other household is a positive and healthy environment).
It’s hard to write this without crying. This is where I remind myself about the power of being vulnerable and of sharing my story. I realize that there are millions of other parents also going through this same struggle. Somehow knowing that you are not alone makes it a little easier to tolerate. Not less painful, but easier to tolerate. I will do my best to fill my time with activities I can’t do when she’s here. I’ll spend many evenings out because I won’t have to worry about daycare pick up or the cost of a baby sitter. I’ll have fun, get rest and count every single second until she’s back in my arms.
This is my third summer sending her away. It never gets easier and I bet it never will. Maybe this is preparation for sending her off to college. That’s just my way of finding a silver lining.