It’s D-Day. For me that’s drop off day. The day I drive my daughter to the airport so she can go spend five weeks with her father. FIVE WEEKS! It seems to be an impossible length of time. She’s spent the last year with me and now she’ll be away for five weeks. Some people think this must be the coolest thing that could ever happen to a single parent. All the sudden you get weeks of free time to do whatever you want! Score! Right?
Not quite so. There are benefits to some time off. I will get a chance to recharge my batteries and I’ll be able to do things I might not try if she were here. The double edged sword of it all, is that dropping her off is like dropping off my heart. When she leaves the world dims. Things just don’t seem right anymore. It’s takes an extra effort just to get out of bed, or to even care about the things that previously excited me.
Do I go through a mini state of depression? Absolutely. Do I cry? Hell yes! I do my best to send her off happily because she deserves this time with her dad. It’s been hard enough for her not to have him around. She needs to know that he loves her and to be the center of someone else’s world for a change. I know that I can’t be her everything, nor should I be. I do the best that I can to fill in for all of her needs in his day to day absence. It’s NEVER enough.
My kid is like any other child. She wants us to get back together and live as one happy family. It’s not going to happen. The best I can offer her is to be supportive of her getting the love she needs from her dad. When she goes away I practice getting the love I need for myself. That means taking good care of me – exercising, eating right, resting, meditating and playing. It’s an effort, because right now all I want to do is curl up in the corner and cry.
This is my third year dropping off my heart. It hasn’t gotten any easier. Each year I’ve wished there would be someone to catch me after she happily skips away with her father, and I begin my fall. Instead I drive alone on the airport roads to my exit, hoping the tears don’t get so bad that I need to pull over.
I drive home or wherever I’m going and do my best to craft the appropriate responses to people’s inquiries. I don’t think they want to hear how deeply my heart is broken. They definitely don’t want to see the raw wound that’s ravaging my heart. I don’t even want to see it! I start to pick up the pieces. I know and I’m grateful that this is temporary heartbreak, that my little girl will come home. The fatalistic side of me wonders what could happen while she’s gone, but I quickly replace that with the image of her running back into my arms five weeks from today!
I realize I’m not in control. I can’t control anything that happens to her while she’s away. I can only control how I respond to it. It’s the lesson I work to teach her every day, but it’s much harder to apply now. Who’s going to kiss her boo boos, is her dad going to pick up on her emotional nuances, what will he do to manage her homesickness, how will he reassure her when she thinks that she’s not enough and how will I cope when she calls crying – as she always does.
I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of tears, some shed and some waiting in the wings. I’m going to breathe, get ready and take her to see her dad. I’ll be a grown up about it and I’ll handle all the questions that come up on the long ride to the airport. I’ve already handled most of the tough ones like, “What if I don’t know what daddy looks like?” There goes another crack in my heart. I guess when you’re just six and haven’t seen your dad for a year, that’s a legitimate concern. I promised her that I’d help her find her daddy and I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry until she’s out of sight.
Time to see what I’m really made of.