The hardest thing is leaving her.
When she was only a baby and then a toddler, I left her every day so I could go to work. She would cry. So sad, so scared, so lost. I would sit patiently with her in the daycare, waiting until she seemed a little more comfortable, until maybe she turned her back to pick up a toy, and then I would scurry away, hoping not to hear the despairing cry: “MOMMY!” when she realized I had left her there again. I’d run out the door and I’d sit beside my husband in the car and I’d cry most of the way to work.
Eventually, things changed in our lives (in the form of a little sister) and I was able to be there with her during her days – dropping her off at preschool, Kindergarten, elementary school. Picking her up after school and walking home together. Hugging her to sleep at night, kissing her awake in the mornings. Helping her cope with overwhelming emotions and just the darn hard job of growing up.
This evening I had that daycare feeling all over again. Because I left her again, when she really just wanted me to stay. I tried to lull her off to sleep, to snuggle and cuddle and comfort her enough to pass her the message through our clasped hands: two weeks is a short time, and Mommy is definitely, absolutely coming back. But she still cried, she still begged me not to go, she still implored me to let her come with me.
But I need to go. I want to go. You see, I’m going to be with my Mommy. To see her and spend time with her and go to doctor’s appointments with her, and just to be with her. It’s something I really, really want and need to do.
I just wish it were easier for my little girl to handle her intense emotions. I wish she could learn to cope with disappointment. I wish she could learn to manage the transitions and change that are part of life more easily. I wish she could spend more of her days happy, and fewer of them being thrown and frightened by her own overwhelming reactions to her world. I wish she could spend more time hoping for the best and less time expecting the worst.
I suppose it’s possible that if we hadn’t nurtured such a strong attachment when she was a baby she’d be more confident with my absence now. Maybe if we’d let her cry more she’d be stoic and calm about me leaving; maybe, but somehow I don’t think so. Mostly I think this because the same parenting techniques have led to an optimistic, happy-go-lucky and adaptable little girl in her younger sister. No, it’s just who she is and how she reacts…but it’s exhausting. And it’s heartbreaking. And on some days, it’s even frightening.
But today? Today it was just hard.