“Mama, there’s a big crack in the bridge!” my daughter exclaimed as we were driving this afternoon to the airport. I explained to her that the “crack” was there on purpose – to allow for the materials of the bridge to contract and expand in different weather.
I didn’t go on to explain that it’s there in case of earthquake and allowing the bridge to buckle a bit. She doesn’t need to worry about that just yet.
Bridges are interesting structures – they connect two spaces, making the distance between them traversable.
Bridges are all about Connection.
I’m leaving tonight for my week away from home. My week of in-person time for school where I spend from 9am to 6pm in seminars, workshops and classes. At the end of my days I am worn out and can barely think – completely physically and mentally exhausted. The first two to three days are fun – a little holiday from my full-time mama life, where I’m only in the company of adults and I get to discuss Deep and Important things.
Then Day Four arrives. I start to miss them. My husband. Our girl.
Day Five arrives and I’m questioning why I felt the need to pursue this degree, why I chose this program. Being away from my loved ones and my home, my space, my people, is almost unbearable. I fantasize about leaving the Conference early.
I endure the last two days on a sheer force of will. Knowing that if I want this degree from this program I need to stay the full week. I need to get through it, regardless of how mentally and physically exhausted I am, regardless of how much I miss my Little Family.
I always bridge this time away for my daughter. I leave a special shirt or give extra love to a special lovey for her, give her permission to play dress up in my dress up clothes. She gets a small present every morning I am gone, from me. Some game to play or jewelry or a new nightgown or something, just to let her know I love her, that I am thinking of her, always. I talk to her every night after dinner and she tells me all about her day. I stay on the phone with her until she decides the conversation is over, letting her get her fill of mama, to get her through to the next day.
In the past I haven’t bridged this time for myself. Last semester my daughter insisted I pack Millie, a pink stuffed cat that she got me for Mother’s Day last year. I was actually surprised how much that lovey helped me through the separation. Day 5 came and I wasn’t completely miserable. I was able to be reminded of my family and our love for each other, just by looking at Millie. Millie came with me to class a couple times. Everyone in my cohort has met and held Millie.
Separations from our loved ones can be hard. Many of us are good at keeping our children’s attachments safe, we are good at protecting them and keeping their emotional health in a good and resilient place. Often times we forget about our own emotional health. Many of us as children had our own emotions ignored, disregarded. As a result we in turn disregard our emotional needs.
Millie is with me today. She’s in my arm as I edit this in-flight. She’ll sleep with me and she’ll probably come with me to class at least a couple times. She’ll help me relax into the present moments and be able to absorb the knowledge and wisdom of my instructors and cohort.
She’s my bridge to my family. Keeping our distance apart traversable, even if it is only so in spirit.
A little pink stuffed cat is helping me heal. Helping me connect. Helping me learn to care for myself, to self-regulate.
Another gift from my daughter. Another lesson. Thank you, to my girl. Thank you, Millie.