“How did you feel when Mommy went away last week?”
“Sad,” Isabelle replied.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because, I missed you.”
“But Bubbe and Zayde came to visit. They took good care of you while I was away, right?”
“Yes. But I still miss you.” Isabelle admitted.
“I know,” I said as I put my arms around her. “But mommy had to go away. To work with teachers.”
“But you didn’t like it?” I inquired.
“No. I not like it,” Isabelle shook her head.
“Because you were sick or because I’ve been away lot lately?” I asked.
I nodded my head. “I have been away a lot lately. I will be around a lot more for the next couple of months. You’ll probably get tired of me and wish I were going out of town.”
Isabelle shook her head. “I miss you when you’re gone.” (Taken straight from Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone.”)
* * * * *
In the past six months, Isabelle has been in the care of at least one of her grandparents for a day or more eight times. That’s right, eight times. Some of the trips were short: a train trip to NYC and back in a day. Most were overnights, with the longest being four nights away to write. While the typical mom response is to say I feel guilty about my absences, the truth is that I don’t. I’ve done speaking engagements and spent time nurturing my writing life. I even spent a couple of nights away with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary. If six months is approximately 180 nights, then I’ve been present for 160 days of wake-ups, tuck-ins, and everything in-between. That means I’ve been here almost 90% of the time! That’s nothing to feel guilty about!
What I do feel badly about is the way this weekend’s re-entry process has gone. Typically, Isabelle is delighted by my return. This time she has been ignoring my questions and arguing with me every chance she’s gotten. By this morning, I felt as though she was pushing every single button I had, which is why I drove the two of us to the Hotel Hershey after my allergy shots. It was a recalibration, of sorts.
You see, Isabelle loves hotels. She especially loves the Hotel Hershey. (It is a four star, historical hotel. What can I say? The kid has good taste!) The two of us spent some time in the lobby where she did her artwork on their fancy memo pads with their pens. Next, we went to the Cocoa Beanery where she got a cookie and I had a much-needed latte. Finally, we went upstairs to the Fountain Lobby where we played “kitchen,” a game she invented a few rainy days ago. (That’s right. This is my go-to spot for rainy or super-cold days when we find ourselves with downtime in Hershey and don’t have enough time for a more kid-friendly activity.)
By the end of our almost two-hour mini-vacation, the two of us were getting a long better. We had had a heart-to-heart (i.e., the conversation written out above) and enjoyed each other’s company. While she still “wiped off” the kiss I gave her in the car, she was more pleasant towards me on the way home. Perhaps our trip to the Hotel Hershey will be a turning point as we attempt to get back to our daily routine. After all, I’m not going away overnight for the next two months. In other words, she’s stuck with me.