I remember the first time I said goodbye to Lola. I was only leaving for a few hours and yet I felt like I was preparing for a voyage. For months it felt impossible for me to leave her side. Even a trip to Wendy’s to get a frosty felt wrong and if you know me you know I love dessert. That particular evening I talked about her constantly. I texted my mom asking about her, and I pined over photos of her. Sure I knew I would be coming home and even though she was only a few months old, I desperately hoped that deep down inside she knew I was coming home too.
Time away is important for so many reasons; the need for me to engage in some sort of self-care being at the forefront but it’s just so hard for me. A small part of me is afraid that somehow I will miss something, that I might blink and she will have entered toddler-hood. Or she will need me and I won’t be there for her. I know she will be ok and cared for and yet knowing that she was the last little one that would inhabit my womb, for me the goodbyes are always tough.
This weekend was our first long goodbye. It was the first goodbye in which I was away from her for more than 4 hours. We went on a family outing with our oldest. I must have kissed Lola a hundred times before I left and told her repeatedly how much I loved her. I stared at her making an imprint in my mind despite having a camera roll full of her photos on my iPhone. We were gone for most of the day; it was a wonderful day and throughout it were sprinkles of updates from my mom and photos and oooh and aaahs from big sister and me. Although we were having a good time our family composition has changed now, so for me nothing ever feels quite the same unless both my children are by my side.
When we got to my mom’s house my eyes met Lola’s. She stared and shortly after, her stares turned into smiles. Her wiggly body still fit perfectly in my arms and unlike my worrisome mind had initially entertained, not much about my baby had changed, well maybe, just maybe one thing did.
Perhaps with each time that I make the effort to say goodbye, even for a little while, an opportunity for Lola to learn that our goodbyes are temporary presents itself. Sometimes I may have to leave for a short time, but prayerfully, I will always come back. And with that comes a chance for her to learn that she will be just fine because the hands that her mommy and daddy leave her in will always be hands that will love and care for her. And while they may not do it quite as well as mommy and daddy they will probably come pretty close. Her parents have faith in them which means she can too.
A mother’s goodbyes are often so tough but on the bright side the hellos that follow are always filled with excitement and bursting with so much love.