We're eighteen months into our mother-daughter alliance, and I have to leave my girl. Judge me for not doing it before now, I welcome it. I'm flying to Florida for three days to celebrate the impending arrival of my sister's first child and my husband is in charge for the first time.
I'm a stay-at-home mom so my daughter is my best friend. But I've convinced myself that it will be great for her to spend some one-on-one time with my husband. I reluctantly relinquish control. It's daddy's time to shine.
I sneak out early in the morning before she wakes up so I won't have to bear saying good bye to her. I uber to the airport with neither a car seat nor stroller in tow. It feels like I'm cheating somehow. The check-in kiosk asks me if I am traveling with an infant in my lap today. I answer no and do a cartwheel. As I stand in the security line, I have a sinking feeling that I forgot something (I did! I forgot what it was like to travel without a stroller, car seat, extra bag and extra human!).
I make it to my seat and can move around! And I can order a drink because for once, my seat mate is not going to dive through the air and kick it. Hell, I can drift off to sleep for hours if I want. When does this fabulous scenario ever exist in my world? My former self would be bored on a plane with no entertainment options but today, I sip my coffee (HOT for once) and bask in the solitude that is a 2-hour flight by myself.
We land and I don't have to change a diaper or any articles of anyone's clothing. At this point I've told at least six different people that this is my first time traveling without my daughter (they didn't ask). As I deplane, it is taking every fiber of my being not to micromanage my husband from my destination. I have so many questions: Was she asking for me when she woke up? What did he feed her for lunch? Did she finish it? Will he put Aquaphor on her butt after her bath tonight? He sometimes forgets that step.
I'm waiting for my bag and showing pictures of my daughter to strangers (again).
When I arrive at my hotel, I'm ridden with guilt. My daughter would lose her mind if she saw this pool. I have to see her.
I FaceTime my husband and immediately regret the decision. All is well back at home until my daughter sees my face and registers that I've gone missing. She's bawling uncontrollably and I feel terribly for her (and my poor husband who I just completely screwed over with this call).
It was then that I decided to let go of my need to micromanage every detail of their day. He's got this. Was she wearing the top to her pajamas as a shirt? Uh huh. But she had on shoes (they didn't match) and her hair was combed (sorta). With every picture my husband tests me, I love him a little more. They're eating pancakes. They're visiting the pet store. We now own cymbals and a tambourine.
I know it's good for both of us to have this time apart. I can recharge and return to my daughter, an even better version of her mama. She can bond with my husband and learn to not be so dependent on me. But it's agonizing. She is my heart beating outside of my body. On the second day, I can take it no longer.
I roll the dice and FaceTime again. I wait, giddy with anticipation...she won't come to the phone. She's running around with Daddy and doesn't have time for Mommy.
I hang up and conclude that she doesn't need me. A part of me is crushed (another part, proud as hell of my husband). I may be first-string but there are two quarterbacks on our team and our back-up made some big plays this weekend at home. Hell, we may even put him in on the road!
When I make it back to her I can barely contain myself. I look like the big smile emoji. She's asleep in her car seat and I scoop her up and hold her tight in my arms until she realizes it's me. She looks up and smiles and everything stops. Mommy's home.
In the end, my time away was beneficial for each one of us. My daughter walks just a step closer to my husband now, their bond strengthened. Turns out that when left unsupervised, they thrived.