In the two and a half years since my son was born, I have spent fewer than a handful of nights away from him. Even at those times, I was just a few minutes away. I recently have began to prepare to go on my first trip away from my son. Not only will this be the longest time I have spent away from him, but this time I am flying states away. My son has special needs and that requires me to constantly be in mommy mode, from sun up to sun down (pun definitely intended). Not having a break in two and a half years takes a lot out of a person. I had been asking for time away to recharge and when the opportunity came to fly back to my hometown for my oldest friend’s baby shower in my home town, I jumped at it.
Throughout this trip (before, during, and after) I went through a whole range of emotions I have put into these 4 stages:
Stage One: Preparation and Panic
Leaving my son to go out of town is not as simple as packing a bag and walking out the door. Because my son has special needs, it involves a little more preparation and a lot more stress and hesitation.
This manifested itself in over the top detailed instructions and excessive cleaning of the house before I left. I did things like put together a binder full of step by step instructions on various activities and proper feeding techniques. I overloaded my husband with various information about the day to day. I debated cancelling my trip a least a handful of times. I spent many moments convincing myself I need to take this trip away. The last step is packing my bags. Being the type of person I am, I usually would have my bags packed a week before I left. I could see the hesitation when the day before I still hadn’t packed. I am so used to packing half my home when I travel, it was such a strange feeling to only have that one under the seat carry-on.
Stage Two: Leaving and Losing it
I knew leaving would be hard. My flight was so early in the morning, I was up and out the door long before anyone in my house was awake. I didn’t get to give my son a hug and tell him goodbye. For me, that was the hardest part. The drive to the airport, which always seems to take long, seemed to take hours. The farther I got from home, the more reluctant I became. I kept thinking I should just turn around. I kept driving and made it to the airport and through security no problem. I was not used to security being so easy. It was nothing like jugging bags, a stroller and a very stubborn toddler with special needs.
I got my Starbucks and breakfast and sat down. For the first time all morning, I sat still not having anything to focus on — what should I do? I checked the baby monitor and scrolled through social media and stumbled across the video I took from Halloween. Then there were tears in my Cinnabon. Did I mention how I hate to fly? I am a control freak, as if that wasn’t made clear yet. Normally my husband is the one to tell my everything is okay, and listens to my ridiculous questions about his knowledge of airplanes.
Stage Three: Landed and Living Life
As I sat in the airport waiting to board my flight home, I began to reminisce over the time I had spent by myself. This trip was over all something I really needed. I was able to have no responsibilities. If I wanted to do computer work, I could. If I wanted to play my video game, I could. If I wanted to eat pizza in bed, I could, and did. To see the girls I knew in my childhood now grown, married and with children of their own was the most amazing thing. We have known each other in pretty much every stage of life and still can keep in touch, and for that I am so grateful. Now I can go home to my family refreshed and ready to be the best mom I can be.
Stage Four: Home and Happy
My husband made sure to be waiting in the driveway with my son when I got home. Seeing his face was so special. He gave me the biggest smile and as soon as I got out of the car, gave me a kiss. It is a great feeling to be home after a trip. By the end, I think I could have enjoyed one more day.