Business travel

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Dawn breaking through the airplane window

I don’t travel much for work, but occasionally I do.  Last week I went to New York for the day.  As I was getting ready to leave at 5 am, I heard Whit’s door creak open and his feet pad to the bathroom.  He must have seen the light on downstairs because I heard him calling quietly to me.  “Mummy?  Is that you?”  I went upstairs, following him into his room, marveling again at his narrow, bird-like shoulders, his pale skin, the two freckles on his back.

I leaned over to tuck him back in, explaining that I was on my way to Logan.  He wasn’t totally awake and, nodding, he rolled over and clutched his monkey, Beloved.  I tiptoed out of the room, trying not to let my heels click on the hardwood floor. I heard him murmur something sleepily.  I turned, went back in, and crouched by his head.  “What?”

He turned his head and his eyes gleamed in the dim light.  “I just said I miss you already.”

The whole way to the airport I felt that moment inside my chest, like an ember.  I felt warm, heavy, grateful, sad.  One surprise of parenting for me has been the amplitude and speed with which my feelings oscillate: during an afternoon of meetings I desperate ache for my children and then, five minutes after returning home, I’m overcome by their noisy demands.

All through the bumpy flight I thought of Whit’s quiet voice, his nightlight-lit room, his beat up Beloved monkey, that he still, at eight years old, is happy to express love towards me.

Around 7am we landed and I opened my email.  I found two emails from Grace that said good morning, and was it okay for her to stay after school so that she could attend an extra session with her Math teacher?  Of course, of course, I typed, feeling both organized and aggravated that I was orchestrating these details from the runway at Laguardia.

Then, another email:

Grace Russell
Feb 7 (1 day ago)

to me

(This is Whit writing!) help me Grace is really annoying and I can’t survive please I beg you.

I burst out laughing.  This is parenting, at its essence, right here, isn’t it?  So heart-wrenchingly sweet you feel like you can’t breathe and then, an hour later, so hilarious you laugh out loud.


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12 Comments

  1. Posted February 21, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Love. And yes.

  2. Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    There are always those moments of grace to remind us why we work, travel and love our little families as hard as we do. Too funny!

    admin Reply:

    Thank God for those moments!! xo

  3. Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Oh, I love it! (And I love being reminded that Whit’s monkey’s name is Beloved. Perfect.) xo

    admin Reply:

    That his monkey’s name is Beloved is one of my favorite details about my son!

  4. Matt
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I shouldn’t, but I love to sneak into their rooms at 445 am before I leave to say goodbye.

  5. Marina
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I was on a business trip too, and i, too, in airplanes. If you could share some advice on how to overcome the fear for flying – which appeared only after i had children although i’m flying non-stop since i was a baby, i would be grateful.

    admin Reply:

    oh, I wish I had something to offer that would be helpful. I can say I know several people for whom this is true, that their fear of flying only began to manifest after they had children. I wish I knew how to help!

  6. Kristine
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the reminder of the wonderment of being a parent. As the mother of a 15 year old son, I will tell you that it just keeps on getting better and better. Being a parent is like having your heart walk around outside of your body and it is the most amazing, wonderful thing that has happened to me. There are just no words to describe it.

    admin Reply:

    It’s so reassuring to know it keeps getting better! I think my biggest fear is that the time is running out on the magical phase.

  7. Posted February 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I couldn’t love this post more. Seriously.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you!! xox

  8. Posted February 21, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Such truth in this; I was nodding the whole way through (even about the bird-like shoulders–I’ve always noticed my son’s little shoulders and your description was perfect.)

    admin Reply:

    Oh I love their shoulders! I wrote a whole post about his shoulder blades a summer or two ago – how they seem like wings to me. xox

  9. Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    This post took my breath away — and I don’t say that lightly. You had me completely at “ember” — and also “Beloved,” but I have to give the credit for that name to your son!

    Thanks for sharing. xox

    admin Reply:

    Yes, he gets all the credit for Beloved! 🙂 xo

  10. Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    They are just the world, aren’t they? Wonder and sorrow and laughter in one shimmering orb that is with us always.

    admin Reply:

    One shimmering orb. Indeed.

  11. Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh,yes! I completely resonate with the ups and downs you write about here. I have such separation anxiety with my kids but goodness, lately especially, right around 6 p.m. I have this desire to crawl into bed with the covers over my head for the quiet. Love it. All of it. xx

    admin Reply:

    I know that desire 🙂

  12. Posted February 22, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve missed your writing–what a perfect post to find on my return.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. Such a nice thing to say; glad you are back. xox