As much as a mother yearns to have time alone, there is a distinct and finite amount of time away from my kids that I can handle. A few days here and there, maybe a long weekend with my husband or girlfriends. And like clockwork, the wall of emotion hits me and I want to see them. Now. I yearn to hold my babies and tuck them in at night.
Only, my babies are teens now…yet still my babies in the deepest recesses of my heart.
The trip sounded fun—a wedding, some time with cousins, my aunt and uncle, and much-needed alone time with my mom. A few days away, a few meals in the freezer, carpools arranged and lists made. Mom and I were on our way.
But as the horrifying events unfolded at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut just a few days into my trip, my heart was back home with my children, MY babies. Irrational, I know—but that gut-wrenching need to see them, squeeze them, tell them I love them—it hit hard. Imagining these other mothers who would never see their babies again left a swelling ache in my heart.
My return trip was fraught with logistical problems. Flight delay, a missed connection, then driving several hours to another airport only to find that flight eventually cancelled. All the while, the ache in my heart growing stronger. Lying awake in the dead of night, alone in a hastily-reserved airport hotel room so far from home the fear began to set in—that irrational part of my mommy brain that I usually keep under wraps, quiet and hidden from view or judgment.
What if I don't make it home? What if I never see them again?
I have worked with small children who have lost their mothers, who have had to regroup and adapt and move forward without the guiding hand, gentle encouragement and loving support of a mother. I know what these kids are missing.
But I am even more deeply aware of what their mothers are missing.
Another morning, another flight—this one seems destined to take off. We taxi down the runway, gaining speed, and I feel it again. I need to see my kids. They may be teenagers full of independence and confidence, able to handle anything life throws their way.
But I am not finished raising them just yet.
From my window seat in row 8, I say a little prayer for all the other mothers who won't see their babies tonight.
And count the miles until I can hold mine.