Monday, July 2, 2012

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

We are less than 48 hours away from the big kids leaving town for three weeks. They are headed on vacation with my parents, to an idyllic island off the Atlantic coast, while the rest of us stay at home.

This splitting of the family seemed like a brilliant idea--back before we traveled, back when I was so sure I knew the *right* things to do when became a family of five. You see we typically travel thousands of miles to this island every summer. It is a place where the kids can run through the woods for hours. A place where they spend entire mornings building fairy houses from moss and rocks and shells. We have a whole fairy village nestled at the trunks of trees near our house there, carefully constructed over the last two summers.

My parents go to the island for several months over the summer--it is the only way they can stomach living in Texas for the rest of the year. Sean's family has a home on the adjoining plot of land and it is all so ridiculously Robert McCloskey-esque that I can't read "A Time of Wonder" or "One Morning in Maine" without my eyes tearing up.

Over the past year we completely changed our professional lives, in part to maximize the amount of time we can spend on-island. Now that Sean is on a teacher's schedule we hope to spend at least a month there each year--every year.

Except not this year.

Before we traveled I thought that if the big kids got to go on-island with my parents for a few weeks it would give YH intensive time with Sean and I. I thought he would be resentful of having the big kids share the attention, and this way the kids would get their summer voyage and we would get to work on attachment.

It looks so perfect spelled out like that, doesn't it?

What I didn't account for was the utter joy that the three kids find in one another--even the middle child. What I didn't account for was the way YH runs out of our bedroom each morning yelling out his sister's name. When he find her he wraps her in a hug and they both tumble to the ground giggling. What I didn't account for was how intently YH listens to his siblings, and mimics their speech and patterns of play.

And now I'm feeling like his little heart will be broken AGAIN when he wakes up on Thursday and the big kids are nowhere to be found. Now I'm feeling like I really messed this up.

I know that in the grand scheme of things it could be traumatic to move to a new home base this early in our attachment dance. I know that routine, and keeping YH's world small, is SO important right now. But the idea of cocooning as a family on a small island--of spending every day outdoors and wrapping my youngest in cozy sweaters at night--is so appealing right now.

I can imagine the big kids introducing YH to all the island sights: swimming at the quarry, searching for shells at low-tide at the Carrying Place, tromping through the woods to get to Fine Sand Beach and splashing in the tide pools that dapple the rocks surrounding the beach.

I can see us spotting bald eagles from the deck as they swoop over Ghost Hollow. I can see early dinners and even earlier bedtimes. Somehow every night on the island ends with everyone in an exhausted heap--sometimes hours before sunset.

So I am spending this week mourning what could have been. Trying to take comfort in the "right on paper" aspects of the split, and preparing to say good-bye to my wonderful eldest children. I have never been away from either of them for this long--and it hurts my heart to think of the silence that they will leave behind.

We will get through it. They will have a WONDERFUL time. We will talk over skype each night, and we will be able to show YH that the big kids will come back.

People we love can leave and come back. We can love them while they're gone, and love them even more when they get back.

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