And then there is the matter of home. It didn’t really hit me until last night how homesick I am. I started to panic for the first time because I realized that my little girl is at home feeling a sense of unwanted independence for the first time herself. I was such a scared kid growing up, with many opportunities to feel the panic of having been left, that I was determined to never have her feel that way. This is probably why I did not let her go for a full two weeks after she was born. I did not even put her down — oh maybe I did when I had to change her diaper.
Since then, she has been with me almost every day of her life, give a sleepover or two here or there. Never more than two nights has she been away from me. And so these ten days have been hard on her. Good for her ultimately, I think, because she is growing up. She’s 12 and that’s old enough to start feeling independence. I am not worried about her nor do I feel the need to rush back and “rescue” her. That would send the message back to her that she can’t handle it. She CAN handle it. She’s a strong and capable girl.
So we were chatting yesterday. This, after she need to talk to me on the phone and was crying. She said that she was having a lot of anxiety and couldn’t sleep. She was sick, on top of everything else. I was waking up in a bed and breakfast at 6am to talk to her and since there was a Belgian journalist in the next room, and the only noise around was the gentle chirping of a dove, I was trying to keep my loud American voice down. “You sound different, mom,” she said. I tried to sound “better,” but explained to her where I was.
As it happened, she was just going to bed and so I talked with her for a bit until she was ready for sleep.
A few hours later she contacted me via chat, scared out of her mind. She’d woken up with her eyes glued shut. She was worried that there was something wrong with them. But I explained to her that it’s either an infection or the sheer amount of tears had caused her eyes to glue together.
So we chatted for a while, even though she was up very early, like 5am, and for her that is more odd than anything. She is the kid who likes to sleep until noon if allowed. I was in the journalists wifi cafe and chatting with her. In our chat, she said the following:
Mom: that might be the reason. Sad dried tears. 🙁 me: it crusted up in the morning m cried a lot too i*6:22 AM Mom: Sorry. 🙁 me: its not ur fault!!!i should be more mature srsly6:23 AM Mom: No, you shouldn’t. It’s normal. It’s sad! me: no no no!!!!! Mom: We just have to figure out how to get through it.6:24 AM me: i can, a good cry isn bad, if anything its good! it shows Mom: Yeah it definitely is. me: that i am not emotionally deprived or giddy Mom: Right. True! me: 😀 Mom: Giddy!
I was proud of her, but I could also sense that she wanted me to know that she could handle it, and even if she couldn’t handle it, she was willing to give it a go.
Parenting is such a crap shoot. I am convinced that the therapy generation has given rise to kids who don’t think they are capable of dealing with heavy emotions. I think they are. They have certain needs that must be fulfilled — the basics — but beyond that, what they suffer through builds character. It makes the shading and the layers and the light.
But none of this helped me last night as I kept waking up every fifteen minutes with my heart pumping out of my chest (probably had nothing to do with the many coffees I had at the wifi cafe that night). At some point it just hit me: I am homesick. I feel uneasy being so far away for so long and I began to question why I did this whole stupid trip to begin with.
No question, it has been a life-altering experience. No question it has expanded my horizons in a good way, both for “work” and for general intellectual enrichment. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to Cannes. But enough is enough. I was done after seven days and I have two more agonizing days to go.
Incidentally, my journey back is going to be quite trying. It’s a 4am wakeup, and a hair-raising walk downstairs, lugging the world’s heaviest suitcase. These stairs aren’t just any ordinary stairs, mind you. They are little winding hobbit spiral stairs. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump – poor Belgian journalist is not going to have a very good morning. And then it’s a five minute walk to the train station to catch a train to Nice. Once in Nice, it’s a cab to the airport for a 7:45am flight.
I contemplated spending $100 on a cab to take me straight to the airport, but that seems a bit much. I did waste $100 already on a membership to the American Pavilion, which is a social hangout with free wifi. But I never go there. I only go to the Orange Wifi cafe.
But I digress…
I will take my chances with the train, I think.
Ah siroy, she’s fine. Remember what Betsey Brown Braun says:
“The surest way to make life hard for your child is to make it too easy.”