When I left D.C. in 2004, I knew I was taking a chance moving to San Diego. It was unlikely that any of my family would move here and after eight years of no humidity or snow, it’s even less likely that I’ll move back. Soon after I moved, my family all left Northern Virginia for various reasons, ending up in North Carolina. In a perfect world, my mom (who flies free because she’s retired) and my brother (who owns his own business so he has flexibility) would visit all the time. In reality, they, like us, get busy and don’t make it out here as often as we’d all like.
The weeks leading up to their visits are full of excitement. Clay asks every day, “how many more days until they get here?” When they arrive, he hardly speaks for the first few minutes (a rare moment of silence), simply grinning from ear to ear. Avery dances around to get their attention. They bring out new toys and books, talking over one another excitedly. My brother and his wife don’t have kids, so I know the flurry of activity (and noise) can be overwhelming at times, but we love this time together.
Then as quickly as the time comes to pick them up at the airport, it’s time again to take them back. When Clay was younger, my mom used to joke he would think she lives at the airport. Since they’re flying across the country, their flights typically arrive and depart late at night or early in the morning. On their last visit, my brother and his wife arrived while the kids were sleeping, and departed the following week before they woke up. Upon waking, Avery searched around for them, and Clay was a mess because he didn’t remember them waking him to say goodbye. That was two weeks ago. Then again yesterday, after having my mom with us for five days, they awoke to just our immediate family. Avery looked around, in her own personal game of hide-and-seek, then gave up. Clay was inconsolable, until he got to talk to my mom on the phone and email her a picture of himself at swim lessons.
My mom says it’s much harder to leave them now that they are older and they understand. When they were babies, she was just this person who came and went and they didn’t have the ability to give it much thought. I remember when Chase and I were dating long distance – the last day before I’d fly home was always tough. You are just waiting for the inevitable, leaving the one you love. My mom is always in a funk on her last day, which is hard to deal with, but I understand. Chase and I have it worse the following day, when although the house is cleaner (my family brings a lot of stuff!), our family doesn’t feel as complete.