So it wasn’t as dramatic as that. But as I was prepping to leave my house for a quick 2-day business trip, I was explaining to my 3 year old that mama was going to be away for 2 bedtimes. I could see the thoughts racing through his head, so I paused for a few moments, and waited.
“Mama, listen to me. When you are done, you have to come home. Or I will be really mad. You have to listen to me.”
And it hit me. He was old enough to really process what me going away meant. I recognize the overwhelming joy that both my kids express when both their mama and dada are home. Partly because they are guaranteed one-on-one time, partly because they just love us both.
I wanted to hide in his room with him and hide until these two days were over. Hold him tight and let him know that I’d never be too far away from him, and would be there always, especially in the times he needed me most. But recognizing that this was one of many business trips to come in his lifetime, I had to think fast, to preserve his faith that I would come back home and make him feel assured that my love didn’t waver when I was far from him.
I recalled the last time I traveled, and the “gift” he gave me to carry with me. Thoughtfully, he looked at me and handed me one of his bath tub toys – a starfish that sticks to the side of the tub. He had several variants of this tub toy and he said
“Mama, take this fish with you, and I’ll keep this (blue) one here. When you look at it, think of me, and when I look at mine, I’ll think of you.”
That was something he had come up with on his own, and I couldn’t think of any better way to give him some comfort today. So I suggested that he find something for me to carry on my trip that would remind me of him. Today it was a piece of paper he’d cut with his safety scissors (sounds insignificant, but he’s a big fan of cutting paper since he only recently was allowed to touch a pair of scissors).
So I am proudly carrying a small triangle of paper – about the size of a thumbnail – nothing special, nothing pretty. Just a small piece of white paper. The paper will accompany me through endless hours of pitch rehearsals, an actual business pitch, and a full day of market research. By the end of my journey, that paper will have traveled over 300 miles, in 3 states, and have been in a room with at least 20 different people.
And the whole time, I will be blessed with an internal peace that comes from knowing that my little boy knows how much his mama loves him and that I am truly never far from his heart. And most important, it serves as a constant reminder that what’s really important in life is the little things, even if they are as simple as a tiny piece of paper.