During my blogging maternity leave, my friend Sara wrote a beautiful post about her emotions when she fell down the stairs holding her son. The response to that post was overwhelming; it was just so good. So, I offered her up a space to write down her thoughts on motherhood every now and again.

Oh baby, I hate to go
By Sara

Last night I had one of those nightmares that paralyzes you with fear.  I dreamed that I was at home with my son when a group of zombies or ghosts (they did not identify themselves in said dream) arrived to take one of us. “No” I cried.  “He is too little,” I sobbed, “he can’t be with out his mama”.  I woke up drenched in a combination of sweat and tears.  I padded into the soft blue nursery and turned on his little night light.  I watched him sleep.  I thought about waking him up just so I could hold him in my arms but settled for resting my palm on the small of his back and feeling his body rise and fall.  I touched his hand, felt his little feet and smoothed his hair before convincing myself to go back to sleep. 

The next morning I recounted the dream to my husband.  He listened with as much interest as anyone can show in someone else’s dream and got quiet for a second.  “Um,” he paused, “Do you think this could have anything to do with your trip next month?”.  I knew it did.  My part time job was sending me to San Francisco for 4 days against my will and I vehemently did not want to go.  After 9 months, I was still breast feeding so being away from my son for any extended period of time required too much planning to be done with any real frequency.  I had spent a night at a hotel for a good friends wedding and a day at a spa with my college roommates but neither had been further than a 20 minute drive from my baby.  I knew that mothers did this sort of thing all the time and I needed to find some perspective, but there was no available perspective looming on my horizon. 

The free-market economy has shown that people, in general, are pretty freaked out about becoming parents.  You can find books telling you how to be pregnant, how to get through the first year, how to sleep train, how to teach your baby to sign and how to make your own baby food.  A book called “How to Leave Your Baby and Get On a Plane” may exist, but I have yet to find it.  In theory, I know how to leave my baby.  I know how to prepare his meals, schedule his naps and lay out his clothes.  I know how to pack my own bags, print out my boarding pass and segregate all my liquids into a plastic bag.   I know how to leave lists, how to check in from the road and how to walk out the door.  I know how to do these things, I just don’t want to. 

The truth is, it’s not the things I can explain that worry me.  It’s the things that can’t.  You can tell someone that he likes to hold your hand when he gets rocked to sleep but how do you show them exactly how he prefers to lace his little fingers with your own?  You can tell them what his favorite lullaby is, but  how do you explain how to trail off at the final verse and hum softly in his ear as you put him in his crib.  I can leave instructions on how to take care for him but I can’t leave a list of how to love him. 

In my head I know that he will be just fine while I am away.  In fact, I think some would argue that the separation might be good for us.  But in my heart I am paralyzed with fear.  I am afraid that he will get sick while I am gone.  I am afraid that he will stand on his own for the first time or take his first steps and I will not be there to see it.  I am afraid that he will get hurt. I am afraid he will get sad and I am afraid that at some point he is going to want his mama and not understand why she is gone.   Mostly, I am afraid that he will be fine.  That he will enjoy the time with his Dad and with his Mimi and not realize I am away at all.  I am afraid that in those four seemly endless days, my little boy, my life, will realize that a world with out mama exists and that even with out a book, he can navigate it just fine.

How could you leave this little face?