I admit, I noticed her coffee mug first. I don’t know why, it was a perfectly normal coffee mug. Perhaps it was the size of it (Good for water, I thought) or the way it slanted in the pouch of her backpack (Must be empty, I considered). These are the types of thoughts my mind created to keep me from tearing up. I didn’t want to think about leaving my crying preschooler again. I didn’t want to think about him sobbing and yelling, “I WANT TO GO WIFF YOU!” with his scratchy, sore throat in a fever fit. I didn’t want the Mommy Guilt to hijack my mind. “You are a shitty mother, a selfish mother, a fucking god-awful mother.” So instead, I looked at her coffee cup.
At some point I realized I was staring at her. The train whizzed through a tunnel and I saw my reflection. I was staring. I caught myself and looked up to see if she noticed. That’s when I saw her crying. She wiped her nose with a tissue and exhaled steadily. Her eyes were puffy. She made no eye-contact. She did not give any indication she knew I was watching her.
The girl across from me, though, did.
I caught her eye and smiled shyly. She nodded a small hello and we swayed with the train’s deceleration. I took a deep breath and walked toward the gate holding the plan to a trip I’ve waiting thirty years to take. Thirty years. Well beyond the moment I could imagine having a son bawling and clawing for me.
I had no idea how much that moment would hurt.
Just an hour or so earlier, I was dropped off by my family at Departures. My son is ill, most likely Strep, and isn’t feeling well. The thing he wants right now, more than anything in the world, is me. ME. The one person who is leaving for a week.
I let him get out of his car seat to give me a proper hug. He clung to me. He cried fat tears of anger and sadness. His nose ran until it landed on my shoulder. “I WANT TO GO WIFF YOU!! I WANT TO GO WIFF YOU!”
I looked up in desperation at my husband, my own tears stinging my eyes. I was helpless. “Maybe he can go to baggage drop off with me while you park? Maybe I can wait on this side if security isn’t horrible? Maybe I can call you in thirty minutes? Maybe..” I grasped at straws. “No,” he sighed, “It’s going to be the same whenever you go.” And like a bandaid, he took him from me, placed him in his car seat and started to pull away.
So it’s not that I was judging the lady with the tears on the train, or the man sipping a whisky at 10AM. In fact, to me, my world right now, I’ve been up since 4AM, it’s effectively late lunch time, my son just broke my heart and, although I’m not, I could really go for a single malt right about now.
Viva Las Amsterdam. It is time to board.
**update, Mr. Flinger bribed with some ice cream and they went to watch the trains together downtown. I’ve received confirmation that the boy is still alive and happy even though I am not physically there. THANK GOD. Now I’ll take that single malt.
I have to live through that EVERY DAY when my parents pick up Sophia. It’s horrible! And then 5 minutes later, she’s fine. And she cries when she has to leave THEM. So, whatever. Good Riddance, kids. Go party, mama.
By Laura on 2010 09 28
Awwww [blows kisses] but, what a WONDERFUL welcome home it will be (less all the coughing, of course!) Have a safe and happy trip!
By Liz@thisfullhouse on 2010 09 28
Kinda made me tear up - poor little dude! But he’s okay and so are you…and OMG you’re in Holland. I haven’t traveled that much, but I know you can’t miss ‘em unless you leave ‘em. Have a great time! Can’t wait to hear and read all about it.
By Wendy on 2010 09 28
Oh, honey. It’ll be tough. On everyone, and then? Then everyone will have fantastic times they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Bring home loads of magic and make the week worth it, Mr. Flinger’ll do the same.
By Amanda on 2010 09 29
I’m ssssoooooooo glad you’re on your way! Yay! I hope you have the time of your life—and blog often!
Wish we were going to see each other, but I know you’ll have fun. I’m living and working with a German couple right now and they are some of the nicest people I’ve met on my travels. Perfect English, too. If they’re any indication—Germany will be kind to you.
By Katie on 2010 09 29
Ok, so I am going on a girls trip to what can only be described as a huge flea market full of junk 4 hours away. I have been casually mentioning my impending absence to my 2 & 4 year old girls for several days now. Last night, we were talking to my husband on speaker phone and my 4 year old was telling him that she wanted him to come home (firefighter working 24 hour shifts). He decides to pacify her by describing all the cool shit they are gonna do while I’m gone. This morning when she woke up she said, “Mommy, is today the day you are leaving!?” I said, “No baby, we still have two more days.” Her response in a dejected: Aww man, I wanted it to be today….WTF?
By Kristy on 2010 09 29
Poor little guy (and poor you). Not looking forward to this part of parenting!
By TexasRed on 2010 09 29
I was fine reading this…. right up until that video. Now I need to go find the tissues. Sob, sniffle.
By Colleen on 2010 10 01
it’s so hard to leave them and the time goes to slowly and yet too quickly, all at the same time. you’re going to have a blast and he’ll be so happy to see you in a week
By MommyNamedApril on 2010 10 02