It's been one week since you looked at me

When I travel on business, at first there's the ooh of the cushy clean hotel bed, the aah of hot oatmeal and fresh smoothies delivered to my room for breakfast, the hey, there's Zak Galifinakis in the hotel lobby. I'm feeling happy about a little break from the dreary office walls, the smelly cat litter, the brutal winter weather.

Then comes the one week mark. And everything changes.

After one week my heart starts to ache hearing those little squealy voices on the phone. After one week it strikes me profoundly that my arms are physically unable to reach through the computer screen and hug those little bodies and stroke that fine, beautiful hair. After one week the pixilation of the iChat video seems like a taunt. After one week I'm ready to be home. Only I'm not. Not yet.

On a video chat last night I could hear the tension in Nate - the testiness, the familiar exhaustion of going from full-time job to full-time parenting, the UGH Liz you're getting them wound up right before bedtime. I thought, if I could be there, I wouldn't be testy. I wouldn't be snapping. (But I probably would.)

Sometimes one week gives you a reset. It an essential reminder of who you are when you're not being Mom. It's also an essential reminder that, despite the distance, you're always Mom.

The sun is rising over the Santa Monica beach right now. The orange glow is sadly beautiful 2462 miles from home.


Blogger Amanda said...

No matter how far you go or how important the reason for leaving, there is a part of you that can't ever leave. An excruciating and beautiful tether.

Safe travels back to your world.

3/2/11, 10:36 AM  
Blogger Nikki @ Mommy Factor said...

I miss my son every moment everyday and I'm only a few minutes away from him.

When I've forced myself to travel out of state I also get that irritated feeling. I call and txt my sister (the child care default person) all the time wondering what my son is doing.

It's hard to be away from them but sometimes it happens. Hang in there.

3/2/11, 12:03 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

I honestly can't imagine being away from them that long. Not right now anyway. Ask me in a few years... ;)

And my hubs just told me about a trip where he has to be gone from 5 nights and I'm freaking out a little (or a lot, whatever...)

Hope your journey home is soon. xo

3/2/11, 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

How timely - I saw this just as I was making last minute arrangements to stay one more night. That was NOT the plan I was READY to go home (done with the hitting hard, tempered by Martinis and a big quiet room thing)...and now I am not. That one stings too. Because I was ready to put back on the messy life, we have no milk, what about the parent-teacher conference scheduling conflict, " Mom you are awkward and embarrassing me (guess which one, yup DD14!!!) Mommy did you, Mommy would you, Mommy I just want to snuggle with you" life. That one is equally mine too and I miss it!
Wishing you a safe trip home Liz.

3/2/11, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I rarely travel for work these days since hubby has to so much but in January I had to be in Destin for some mtgs - just a one night stay but over a Sat night. The 4+ hour drive down I was in heaven, listening to my music, no reaching back for dropped crayons, to hand a kleenex. But as the day and night progressed I increasingly missed my little guys. In that 36 hours I was gone I went from excited for the break, to feeling "back in it", to missing home terribly, and then back to wishing the time away hadn't gone quite so fast.

Damn emotions! Just try and consider this time for Nate and the girls is their special time to bond and do Daddy and Daughter stuff and imagine the hugs and how incredibly awesome they will be in just another week. Anticipation makes everything better, well most of the time...

3/2/11, 12:45 PM  
Anonymous The Dalai Mama said...

My husband and I both occasionally travel for work--conferences mostly. But I know it is excruciatingly difficult for my husband to be away for more than a night or two. I too enjoy the first two days of peace, silence, adult only outings/meetings. But then I miss their hugs and laughs. Single parenting (even for a week) is so difficult. It always makes me appreciate having a partner.

Routine is hard to change for adults and little ones. I actually think it is harder on the adults than the kids.

3/2/11, 1:01 PM  
Blogger Nicole Pelton said...

A week is about my limit for missing my guys too. I have to admit with the busy schedule, jet lag and major time difference I barely called from my last trip. Have to try video chat next time, think the kids would stay on longer :) Fortunately daddy has more patience than me, but he also takes them out for dinner and lets them sleep in bed with him.

3/2/11, 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Paula/adhocmom said...

I hope you get back home soon!

3/2/11, 1:20 PM  
Blogger Danielle-Marie said...

I think you do great as a mom, great as a working mother. I'm a stay at home mom. I wish I was as brave as you and did it all.

3/2/11, 2:40 PM  
Blogger Tonya said...

As a stay-at-home mom of four where the schools have had 27 snow days thus far, I wouldn't turn down six or seven days in a sunny locale. However, I'd be ready to come home in a week...maybe...

3/2/11, 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I traveled a lot last year and I can completely empathize with you. The first few nights are nice, but all too quickly I miss the big and little people back home.

3/2/11, 3:16 PM  
Anonymous one hungry mama said...

weird! i was just tweeting (did i really type that?) with another fab lady who's away from her lil one on business right now. like you, she was feeling sad and missing her kiddo.

i'm in the opposite place at the moment. i'm just home from a trip where my husband had to work all day while i got to hang with my little ones by a gorgeous pool. i was kind of dreading the trip--partly b/c i was going to be alone with both of them all day, everyday--but it turned out to be successful. so much fun even! and that made me feel even more super attached than i usually get when i'm able to spend a bunch of uninterrupted time without distractions with them.

anyway, there's something about being where i am while reading her sad tweet that helped crystallized something for me: having both kids and work (and the opportunities to do things away from my kids) is what keeps me passionate about both. and i guess part of that comes all of the other feelings you mentioned... being sad when we're away too long, being totally frustrated and burnt when we're too close too long. it's all part and parcel, huh?

maybe you can remind me the next time i want to throttle my kids b/c i haven't had a minute to even poop in private for days. or when i'm away and sad not to tap on my mr. toothus mcgoofus' teeth (it's hard to resist b/c they are so overly big for his face, plus it makes him laugh).

either way, safe travels home.

(and ps: it's still freaking cold here in nyc, so don't rush it too much.)

3/2/11, 8:59 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

In a week, I get to be Nate. I mean that my S.O. will be away for a full 8 days while I hold up the homestead. And, I know he'll miss us, but---oy---it's hard not to feel totally and completely jealous that I'm not in his shoes.

But for me to be away for a week? Heck, yeah, I'd be in your shoes. Missing all the crazy and sweet and messy and loud of home.

Grass is always greener I suppose.

Safe travels home Liz.

3/2/11, 9:40 PM  
Blogger The Mommy Therapy said...

You worded that perfectly. Being away is so wonderful at first. So necessary to regroup as a person, to remove yourself from your Mommy identity.

I think the most I've been away is a few days and it always feels good to be back. It always feels like I'm missing part of my self after a few days without my current attachments of three. After a few days it is much more difficult to find joy in being able to skip the Disney channel and always go to the bathroom by yourself. Those things are prtty amazing at first though.

I hope you get home soon. I can imagine a week is a bit too long. For you and for the parent left behind.

3/2/11, 11:04 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

I don't have anything smart to say. But I know what you mean, and wish you safe and speedy travels back to your little ones and their irritated father!

(Also, I'm glad our SoCal weather wasn't too bad for you. It would have sucked even worse if you got stuck with a week of rain....)

3/3/11, 12:15 AM  
Anonymous JD said...

Your BNL headline pulled me in to your blog post!

I am away from my girls right now in a decidedly less glamorous place: a hospital. My mom broke her arm and is having surgery. It's not a fun place or a fun reason to be here, but I am oddly enjoying being camped out in the quiet cafeteria. I can catch up on blogs, do some writing, read a book...I know my mom is in good hands and though I am a little nervous this alone time is kinda nice. My hubby is doing well and the girlies have been good so far, so my guilt is minimal. Now if only the caf served red wine...

3/3/11, 2:49 PM  
Blogger Cookie Crums said...

I can't speak from experience.. and probably wouldn't really want to... OK OK that's a lie :) I'd like to know what's it like to leave my husband home for a few days with just him and our sons. He's the one always traveling with work; I'm the one home. And at times, I'm a little resentful. Is that fair to him? No. But it's a honest reaction.

Safe travels home to your family!!

3/3/11, 3:06 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

Now I'm missing your kids too. That's how perfectly you write. Hang in there Liz. And yes, still cold as ass here in NY.

3/4/11, 9:57 AM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

This is a really beautiful post.

Also, must ask- was Zak wearing a fanny pack?


3/4/11, 12:32 PM  
Blogger Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Oh my gosh, I just wrote about this myself! I don't travel often for work and so I thought this would be such a GREAT way to decompress and take time to miss my baby and husband. Instead it was constant insanity, where home seemed like a REST.


3/4/11, 9:18 PM  
Blogger KD Jewelry said...

It's funny when you are with them (I have four) you think about getting away. But then you get away, and you can't get back fast enough. LOL

3/5/11, 5:13 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

It's so hard, isn't it? I feel awful just leaving my boys to go to work every day, and this past week was especially hard. I've never left them for more than two nights in a row, though, the first time being at BlogHer in New York City last year. This year I'm going to leave them for three nights for San Diego, and I don't know if I'll be able to handle that! The guilt! Also, I miss them so much and worry abou them. Sigh.

3/6/11, 10:59 AM  

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