My son is a daddy’s boy. This is for several reasons. Paul spends more time with him daily than I do, because he drops Ben off at daycare, and picks him up again in the evening. And even when we all get home on a weeknight, three out of five nights, I’m trying to get dinner for us all on the table while Paul plays with Ben outside. I also tend to rely on Paul to take Ben out of the house on weekends when I need to work or clean or get something done, and they usually go to a park. My time getting Ben out of the house to give Paul a break is usually spent running errands and dragging him to the store (although we do go to the farmer’s market, which Ben LOVES). And, of course, there’s the fact that Dada doesn’t travel without Ben.
Mama, however, goes on a business trip every month or two. And while I always make them as quick as I can, and I get home as soon as I can, I’m still gone. And today, Paul told me that Ben woke up, looked around for me, and then told Paul, “Mama on trip.” Ben, now, understands that I go on trips, and that he will talk to me on the computer when I’m away, but he’s too little to understand that I travel for work, not for fun. He’s too little to understand “work” (although he gets “Mama office”).
But when I’m traveling, and I can’t be with my son, I still get to experience the deep bond between us. Ben asks for me when I’m gone. When he sees me on Skype, his little face lights up in a big grin, and he says, “Mama!” At the end of the call, he says, “I love you,” without prompting. When I’m gone, he misses Mama, and tomorrow, he will be glad to see me when he wakes up. I will get a big smile and hug…and if I don’t, I’ll just pull out the toy NYC taxi and firetruck I bought him at the airport.
For me, the bond between me and my baby is one that works on too many levels of my brain. When I’m away from him for twenty-four hours, I start to really miss him. Ever since I started traveling for business, the sight of a baby his size (which now means a toddler), makes me choke up. I have gone through JFK multiple times, trying not to cry, because I was going home to my baby. I get overwhelmed with a mix of relief and happiness that I’m going to be home with him soon, combined with a wave of just missing my baby, that is overwhelming. The thought of being on my way home, and knowing that its just a few hours until I will be able to kiss the top of his head, is enough to start tears running down my face. It reminds me, every time, how deep and mysterious the bond between mother and child is, and how much Ben is still part of me.
Now, I’m home from my travels. And today is Friday, and I can pick Ben up from daycare, and take him to the park. And he will run up and give me a great big hug when he sees me. And I’m sure I can get an affectionate nuzzle and kiss out of him as well. Because even though Ben is a daddy’s boy, he still loves his mama very much. And after a little extra time together this weekend, in parks and playgrounds instead of Costco, he will be a little more re-bonded with Mama.