I don't like leaving. But I don't like staying, either. This is the paradoxical world in which I, the mother of two children who happen to be 2,220 miles apart, must live for the time being. When I am with one I pine for the other; when I am without I want to be with. I want it both ways.
At least, that is what my heart screams with astonishing clarity every time I visit Wolf. My brain, with its penchant for logic knows better. It knows the right situation for the right child and when, and why, and how. My brain explains logistics and daily schedules, handy when I am looking to deny my emotional heart a minute of sorrow for the child who is not within my physical reach.
This has not always been the case, and I am still considering the reason. Perhaps it was due to our co-parent trip, leaving a young and still somewhat confused Bear at home with friends. Maybe it was because our visit with Wolf was so productive I hated to end it with our departure for another three months. Maybe it simply due to the fact that my once little son now sports the appearance of a young adult, with leg hair and muscles and the telltale slouch of an adolescent, and I was able, with reasonable humor, to say all the things I had been storing up for eight months since my last visit. "Sit up straight, quit burping in public, don't slurp your soda", all the stuff I am entitled to verbalize as mother to a teenager.
Bear didn't help much, either, lying in bed the evening we left, crying because he wanted to go with us, and patting my face with small hands as if he was trying to imprint my structure in his mind. Taking Bear along would have been fraught with difficulty; we would have missed valuable family therapy time and at five, he would have been very bored after just a short time of roaming the school's halls, limited as they are.
At the airport I people-watched while waiting to board my flight home. A grandmother, limping along the terminal with a walker, was saying goodbye to her two school-aged grandchildren. Fast farewells turned into tearful, desperate hugs at the gate, and I stood next to them, knowing how they felt. After the kids had disappeared down the ramp, their grandmother turned to me. "It's so hard to let them go," she said, wiping tears from her eyes with a wadded up tissue. "Do you have children?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied. "Here, and there."