“Mommy always comes back.” This is the mantra my daughter repeats before we are separated. It started a couple of months ago when I left her for the first time in the childcare room for my MOPS meeting. Those days the mantra was, “mommy will be back in one second.”
When I picked her up, the mother who was helping in the room told me she kept repeating it to herself in a self soothing way as she cried and looked towards the door. She said it appeared to calm her down when her anxiety started to rise.
Our phrase has evolved over time so that now it is simply and more accurately, “mommy always comes back.”
Whenever we talk about playing with friends and being apart, my daughter repeats it. She is preparing herself for my departure and bracing her emotions from the impact of being away from me.
I repeat the words back to her. This is our agreement, even when she goes to sleep. “Mommy always comes back.”
This verbal agreement shapes my whole life. It is my reminder that someone is counting on me to be present and alive. It's in the back of my head when I go to meet friends for drinks: she's counting on me to be there in the morning, which means I can’t be careless. It's on my mind when I drive in bad weather to get home. I have to be safe. I have to come back home.
For most of her life, I have been the one leaving her. I leave her to go to a meeting, a doctor’s appointment, or out with friends. Our separation is brief, and she is relieved when I return. Our dynamic is about to change. Soon I will have to learn how to let her go the same way she is learning how to let me go.
I start to think about all of the times she will have to leave me: when she starts preschool in a couple of weeks, when she goes on her first play date, when she goes to high school, and when she goes to college to name a few.
From the little moments to the big moments she will be leaving me for the rest of her life. Thinking about that doesn't make me sad. She has been my constant companion since the moment she was conceived. Our bond is unbreakable.
Right now my daughter relies on me to come back, but one day I will ask my daughter to make the same promise: my baby will always come back to me. Soon that will be my new mantra. It will be the thing that carries me through our separations. If we can promise that we will always come back to each other, physically and emotionally, I know I can continue sending her out in the world with confidence.
The sky's the limit right now. My baby is about to start preschool and embark on a lifelong journey of leaving me. Our time together is limited and sweet. I am excited to see the person she continues to grow into and I can't wait to see my baby soar. I want her to always remember that no matter how far she goes or how long we are separated, mommy will always come back. In return, I will always wait for her to come back through the door.