Annika is going to get on a plane without me for the first time tomorrow morning. She and Toyin are going to Michigan for Thanksgiving. They will be gone for three days.
Tomorrow marks the first of many things.
Our first holiday apart; her first trip on a plane without me; her first trip visiting her other family that I am not a part of; her first time in Michigan without me.
For the most part, I’ve been okay with it. But tonight, as I read her bedtime stories, she picked out a book I bought in preparation for going to school, Llama Llama Misses Mama.
I started to tear up a little as I read it, wondering if she chose it as a way of telling me something.
Logically, I doubt it. She’s pretty open about what she does and doesn’t like. And she has picked out that book several times lately. She’s even told me that she doesn’t miss me when she goes to school, like the llama misses his mama.
But I know she’s scared. When we first started talking about the trip, she told me, emphatically, that she did not want to go on a plane without me. She was scared. And she told me today that she was not scared anymore, but she is nervous.
I’ve been pumping up the trip, telling her how much fun she is going to have. We bought gum for the plane ride and filled her backpack with books and toys for the trip. I made sure she had one of her favorite stuffed animals. And I’ve given her a blow-by-blow of what things I know will happen during the trip.
It’s a small glimpse into the future of motherhood as I do my best to prepare her for situations that I cannot possibly predict, but hoping that I’ve given her enough information that she will be comfortable and happy.
And then there’s the other side of this trip. Me. Alone without her while she travels into a world that I will become less and less a part of.
To be honest, I am partly looking forward to having a full three days alone. Pre-child, I was mostly a loner. I liked my solitude. I craved it more than I can describe after she was born. This will be the longest stretch alone I’ve had since Annika was born.
But I’ve come to feel more complete when Annika is around. When she’s gone, even for one night, I miss her. Our tiny apartment feels huge and lonely when she’s gone. I simply miss her presence.
I don’t mind so much that she’ll be gone for a holiday. But I am glad that it’s Thanksgiving and not Christmas. I think I would be devastated if she missed her first big girl Christmas with me. I don’t even want to think about future Christmases without her, even though I know they are coming. I’ll probably just curl up in a fetal position when she’s gone.
So, in less than 12 hours, I’ll be either blissfully enjoying my solitude for the next three days, aside from the family dinner on Thanksgiving. Or I’ll be curled up in a fetal position, missing her terribly and counting the hours until she’s back.
I wonder what things will have changed when she comes back on Friday night. Will she be clingier than usual? Or will she have grown up, just a bit more than I can handle? Will she realize that, like the llama, that she can love me, and still have a good time without me?