Leaving My Heart at Home – Traveling without Children

I meant to write this yesterday, but with traveling and the emotion of the day, I simply couldn’t. What’s funny is that I travel all the time and quite often without my son and I’m as used to it as a mother can be, but this trip is different. Usually, I’m going for work, going to be gone somewhere for a few days and I know he’s safe at home with his dad. This trip is different. This time, my husband is coming with and my son is staying with two very loving, capable grandparents, but not with a parent and for some reason that bothers me, although just a little. On top of it, we are going to be gone for over two weeks, which also bothers me a little, but not much since my son has been away to a two-week summer camp before. The big thing is we are going far away. At this point, for the first time in our lives, an ocean separates my son and me. Don’t get me wrong. I am so happy to be going. We are traveling the United Kingdom with my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary so not only will I get some wonderful sightseeing in, I also get quality time with my husband and a long visit with mom and dad. I have to admit, though, that a part of me was certainly left at home with my son.

Traveling like this, however, did take some planning or at least it should. Not only are there the emotional issues as I alluded to, there are practical ones as well.

First, I want to be able to be reached. Email is easy and pretty readily available. I also contacted my cell phone company and for $15 was able to make it so that I can receive unlimited texts and can make up to 100 texts without paying per text. In addition, I set up a Skype number with a one-month world access subscription (   ) so that I can call and receive calls anywhere I have WiFi.

Of course, traveling a lot without my son has also made me see a harsh reality. While I am definitely missing him and want to hear his voice, sometimes it’s better that he not talk to me. If he’s happy playing with his friends or video games, the last thing he and his grandparents need is me interrupting him and upsetting him with a reminder that he misses me. It’s not that he doesn’t miss me. He does, but he is busy thinking about something else, and that’s a good thing. Because of that, I let him set the pace. I send him texts daily and he knows he can call me, I’ve even programmed the Skype number into his cell phone, but I have him initiate that contact. For this trip, I also made a chart showing what time it is where he is versus the time where I’ll be in the hopes of avoiding 3am phone calls, which, I, of course, would take just to hear his voice!

On a more practical note, I had to be certain everyone at the school was aware that my husband and I would be gone. The school doesn’t call often, but if our son forgets something at home or is sick and the school nurse needs to call, they needed to know that we are not readily available and to call his grandparents instead. The school also needed paperwork completed to allow his grandparents to sign permission slips and to pick our son up from school. In addition, I made sure his teacher knew exactly when we would be traveling and had his grandparents’ contact information in case she needed something or in case there were any changes in his behavior at school or with his homework.

Most people I know thought of the school paperwork and notifications, but many with whom I spoke hadn’t thought about the next item. What if my son gets sick? I don’t mean an emergency but simply something that requires a visit to our local urgent care. Most medical facilities require a parent or guardian’s permission to treat a minor except in cases of emergency. I checked with our local medical facilities and while some said a simple written note from us explaining the situation would do, most advised a medical power of attorney, which is what we did. Basically, it’s a simple form that can be found online (click here for the one I used) that you complete giving someone else permission to make medical decisions for your child that is signed and notarized. It can be revoked when returning from vacation. Other than having to have it notarized, which our bank did for free, it was just as easy as writing a note and is now a legal document so my in-laws can do what they need to do for our son’s health if anything.

After typing up a list of important phone numbers, our itinerary, our son’s regular routine, and other info for my in-laws as well as completing everything above, I knew I could leave with a clear mind knowing I had done everything to ensure that my son would be well cared for. When I dropped him off at school and he gave me a hug goodbye, I did well. It was only after he couldn’t see me that I allowed a few tears to fall and by now, the next day, especially after writing this post and knowing he and I were both prepared for this trip, excitement is overtaking the sadness. I can’t wait to visit England and Scotland and see castles and museums and a bunch of places my son would have hated. I can’t wait to visit with my parents who live far enough from me that I only get to see them a couple of times a year. Even more, I can’t wait to simply be a wife knowing that while I would never want to give them up permanently, my mom duties are briefly suspended and I can enjoy some alone time with my husband.

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