In mere days, I leave for a four-day, overnight trip for work. The only other time I’ve been away from my daughter for this long was when I made this same trip last summer, when she was only 8 weeks old.
I have to say that, this time, I’m having a much harder time dealing with the thought of being away from my daughter for this long. I consoled myself last year with something someone told me/I read/I made up to deal – that at just a couple months old, while she physiologically knows that I’m her mom, just about anyone offering a snuggle could provide the comfort and attention she needed. It was enough to get me through the trip.
Fast forward a year, and Nora is now walking, talking and comprehending at a level that astounds me. And with that, she now recognizes when I’m gone, whether it’s out of the room for a minute or out of the house for the day. She notices when it’s dad and not me comforting her when she wakes up in the middle of the night. And, as a breastfed toddler, still relies on me for extra connections throught the day.
As a work-from-home mom, Nora and I are around each other every day, all day. It’s rare that we are apart, but if I have a meeting or other obligation, I’m maybe away from her for four hours, tops. But four days? I’m simply not used to being without her for that long.
What’s more, I feel our breastfeeding relationship could be in jeopardy and I’m not ready to see it end yet. Without me there to nurse her, how will she handle it? Will she be upset? Will she think this is something I no longer want because I’m not making myself available to provide it? Or…and maybe this scares me the most…will she not even notice?
I’ve already cried about this several times. The other night in bed, crying yet again, my husband and I talked it through. I had been keeping my feelings to myself about the real reasons behind my hesitation over the trip, and I didn’t realize that he had been reading my anxiety as uncertainty in his parenting – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Once I explained my actual apprehension, he helped me gain this perspective:
I truly am with Nora all day long. And because my husband works long days, he only gets to see her for much shorter chunks of time. So in going on this work trip, I’m not depriving her of my time; I’m simply creating the opportunity for my daughter to have an important experience she doesn’t get often enough – time with dad.
My husband is brilliant for posing it to me this way. As her mom I want to give my precious, on-a-pedestal first-born absolutely everything; why would I not want to “give” her the chance to spend some QT with daddy? You see what he did there? Genius.
Does this way of thinking solve everything? No. I’m still worried about the breastfeeding but I know my milk is no longer her primary source of nutrition, so it’s not like she’s going to starve without it. As for the comfort nursing provides, well, I happen to think my husband’s snuggles are pretty great, and I know Nora loves them, too. I just have to trust that this will work out the way it’s supposed to, no matter what happens with the nursing when I return.
I need this trip as much as she does; I certainly have my own growing to do. There are, of course, benefits to being able to spend more than a handful of hours apart. We can do this!
And besides… there’s always cell phones. And FaceTime. And Skype.
A work in progress, right?