Mike's going off on a writer's retreat this weekend...leaving early this afternoon and returning Sunday afternoon. He's been away from our family only three times. The first time was when Chris was nearly 4, and he went to Australia for a week for his brother's wedding. Even though we tried to prep Chris for several days beforehand, he seemed to be in complete denial of Mike's impending departure. We went to the airport to see him off (in those days of watching departing passengers go through the gates), and it wasn't until Mike had said his goodbyes and was about ready to pass through the gate that Chris let out an ear-piercing scream. We survived fine, Chris and I, and in fact we went up to Holden Village with Mom and Dad and even camped out the night before. Mike made his way up to Holden after he returned from Oz.
The other times were several years ago, once for a 1-night-away writer's conference in Ocean Shores, Washington, and another time when I gave him a "writer's weekend" for a gift. He went to the beach for the weekend to write. By that time, we had two children.
Now he is going to a children's writer's retreat in Silver Falls, out of cell phone coverage. When I first encouraged him to attend it, I didn't really understand that it would take him away for three nights. I thought it was a writer's conference, like he has attended in the past.
Chris is the one who is the most upset by Mike's departure...he reacts the same when I travel for work. I'm not sure whether it's the disruption in his routine, the fact that he likes us all to be together, or something deeper in his psyche from when he was in the NICU and he lived away from us for the first 4 formative months of his life. (How can that not affect someone's psyche, to be in a hospital for your first 117 days, and not to be held--at all--for the first 6 weeks of your life? It's truly astonishing that he doesn't have all sorts of attachment problems!!!)
At any rate, I'm not looking forward to this long weekend. I will have lots of help from my parents--God bless 'em, as Sarah Palin would say--but it's the partnership and companionship I will miss. Parenting three children is a lot of work. Bedtime is especially tiring (for the left-behind parent).
But I have told Chris that we must not complain...we must just tell Mike that we'll miss him. Because he so deserves this getaway and time to focus on his writing! I in particular will not complain because Mike parents all three kids on his own every time I take a business trip.
Most of all, I will miss having my best friend with me...to share all the inane little details of the day, the cute things that Nicholas says and the funny things that Kieran and Chris do...and I will miss the sense of comfort from being totally at ease and comfortable with another person. There will be a huge gap in my life until Mike returns on Sunday.