Jack spent the weekend with his Dad in Kentucky. Jack has been to KY before. I’ve never been a fan of being eight hours away from him (we live in MO) but I know the drill. The flight made me nervous, but I was excited for him to experience his first time flying. I hoped his first time on an airplane would serve as a good distraction. This was a last minute trip and sadly, the circumstances weren’t good, he and his dad were going to KY to attend a funeral service for Jack’s Great Grandmother (Old Mammaw), who was 91. We told Jack we believed she was ready to “go home”. I guess that’s how these things are supposed to happen, while that never lessens the pain of a loss, we all know nothing lasts forever and 91 is a pretty good run.
Jack and I have experienced loss, the kind that isn’t supposed to happen, (archive blog for back story) and I feared attending these services would be a trigger for him. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him seeing “Old Mammaw” in her casket, how would it make him feel? Could he handle being surrounded by loss and grief all weekend, he’s a got a big heart and he feels what others feel. I love this about him but because I am this way too, know how draining and trying it can be. Despite my concerns, Jack wanted to go and I knew he would serve as a comfort to his Grandma (Mammaw). It was also extra time he would spend with his Dad. They typically only see each other a couple of times a month for an overnight visit so I was hopeful they would still have a “good trip”. I agreed to let him go and they were scheduled to fly out on 6:00 a.m.on Friday.
Thursday Evening: I had my alarm set for 4:30 a.m., he and his dad would be out of the door by 4:45. Jack’s bags were packed (tripled checked) he had snacks, activities, a lanyard with mine and his dad’s contact info, his name and our contact number made its way on to most everything by the time I was done. His outfit was laid out, shoes and coat…I set out his medicine/vitamins so the morning would be smooth sailing. We were going to be a well-oiled machine!
Friday 4:00 a.m. Insert life: Jack woke up with an ear ache. He was frustrated he didn’t feel good (he was excited about flying and worried he wouldn’t be able to go if he was sick), he was in pain and tearful but still going through the motions of getting ready. We’ve been down this ear infection road before and I was 99.9% sure we were dealing with an ear infection. My kid is one tough cookie and when tears come with ear pain, it’s infected, not exactly a brain buster. I gave him ibuprofen, tried to make him comfortable, and dialed nurse on call. I was nervous about him flying with an ear infection. We’ve already ruptured an ear drum or two in our day (without flying) and I’d like for my son to maintain his ability to hear, even if it is selective. I called the nurse, the nurse called the Dr., the Dr. gave us the okay for him to fly but Jack would have to be seen at an Urgent Care when they landed. Jack perked up a little (combination of knowing his trip wasn’t canceled and the ibuprofen kicking in). Okay, crisis averted.
Closer to 5:00 a.m. they were off to catch their 6:00 a.m. flight. After a hectic hour and a morning that was anything but smooth sailing this Momma wasn’t feeling so great about letting her son leave “like that”. Self thoughts: He doesn’t feel good, he’s sick, he and his Dad are first time fliers, they’re going to get lost or separated at the airport, insert my previous mentioned anxieties over the trip in general. I was a mess and sat for about an hour after they left, tears may have been involved and I called “my tribe”, several members. I needed them to reassure me I wasn’t a horrible mother for letting him go, please remind everything will be fine. They came through, as they always do, so I pulled myself together and got ready for work. I went on about my day, distracted and worried, even when I’m not actively “momming”, I’m still his Momma. Luckily they made their flight, everything was on time, even ahead of schedule, so my flying/airport fears were alleviated by 9:30.
Their next stop was Urgent Care and I was happy his ibuprofen was holding up and he wasn’t in any pain. He was on the ground, on his way to Urgent Care and this might all actually turn out okay. By midday Friday I got to talk to him after their visit to Urgent care (he did indeed have an ear infection) he was being silly with his dad and I needed to hear that, that’s when I finally felt some weight lift. I had been carrying that image of him from the morning with me all day; nervous, apprehensive, tired and not feeling well. It was so hard for me to let go of that image.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful (as far as I was concerned) I got a brief update Saturday morning, a picture of Jackson holding his Mammaw’s cat, Oreo, looking comfy in his pajamas and rested. Later that evening I got a text from his dad; “Jack was a trooper today. It was a long day at the funeral home and he couldn’t have been better”. I didn’t love that he had spent the duration of his day at the funeral home but I was proud of him. I could imagine how he was with his Mammaw and Daddy (extra sweet), helping out with the younger kids, being well behaved, attentive, just being “my boy”.
Sunday: Jack was coming home! Their flight was due to land at 9:30 p.m. so I expected him home a little before 10:00. It was more like 10:45/11:00 which is super late for my kiddo. I finally heard him ring our doorbell, the way he always does, as many times as he can until I open the door. How sweet the sound! That’s always the best feeling, the second you stop missing someone, when your fears slip away and in that moment, all is right in the world. He looked great considering the marathon weekend he’d had, and he was so happy to be home. I was bummed he had to go right to bed, but he was still home, and that made this Momma very happy. I sat next to his bed for a little awhile, telling him how much I missed him and how happy I was that he was home, he agreed he was happy to be home and in his own bed. I tucked him in, kissed his head and started to get up but before I could, he asked me to sit with him a little while longer, and he wanted to hold my hand. Umm, this was a no brainer! Of course I would.
I didn’t set my alarm for Monday morning, I planned to let him catch up on some rest and I would take him to school a little late. He woke up Monday morning and seemed fine, he looked well rested and again, just happy to be home. We sat at our kitchen table and we were planning out our day; where should we go for breakfast, what errands did I need to run on my lunch break, did we need any groceries, what fun thing would we do after school to celebrate him being home? I could tell his mind was somewhere else so I asked the question, “what are you thinking about”? and he responded with “I just missed you”. He could barely get the words out without crying. I love how much he loves me, I love the special bond we share, but this was about way more than him just missing me.
I hugged him and told him I missed him too but I asked him what was really going on? It took me asking a few questions to try to get to the root of what was really bothering him, this kid is an onion, layers! After all of my planning, all of my worrying and “momming” nothing could have prepared me for what Jack came home with, his perception of the weekend. Jack didn’t just see his Mammaw and Old Mammaw, the roles they filled for him as a ten-year old boy, he saw a mother and a daughter. When Jackson looked at Mammaw crying for Old Mammaw he saw a daughter mourning the loss of her mother. This prompted him to think of his own Momma. He didn’t want to lose me the way Mammaw lost her Mom.
Wow. He brought me to tears when he explained all of this and I had to take a minute to process how profound his thoughts are. I could hardly believe how perceptive he was of the situation and how truly thoughtful he was in regards to it, how reflective. I told him how proud I am of him. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised, there is something so special about Jack and he processes things in a way that helps ME understand the world better. I wish I could live one day seeing the world as he does, what a gift that would be.
I am sad my son knows loss, he learned the hard way that people don’t last forever. I hate that he thinks of and worries that I might die, his bubble was busted way too soon. While it’s morbid, I have talked to Jack about what I would want for him if something were to happen to me. I won’t make a promise to him I can’t keep and I’m not regretful of these conversations, I’m actually thankful we’ve had them. Some may disagree with that parenting choice and that’s okay, it might not be what’s best for you and your children. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong, I just know what’s right for us, I know where our path has led us.
At the end of the day Jack is still a ten-year old boy and I still want to make the world as safe of a place as I can for him so I remind him Mommy is 32, not 91. I try to put everything back “where it belongs”. I told him I thought 91 was a good number so we’re planning for at least that.
Thanks for teaching Mom so much about life and love, kiddo. ❤