Don't You… Forget About Me.

Being away from Emory was much harder than I imagined. I know that sentence made some people roll their eyes. Before I had Emory, I would have rolled my eyes so much so they probably would have fallen out. But it’s true. I had no idea how hard it would be to be away from him. I was away from him from 8:30 AM Friday morning until about 3:30 PM on Saturday and in that short time, I counted the minutes until I’d get to hold him again.

How do woman leave for longer periods? I’ve watched a few reality TV shows in my time, mainly Top Chef (which I adore). I watched a marathon of The Biggest Loser on Bravo last year while TobyJoe was away and I was one month pregnant. On both shows, at least once, a contestant had a break down, lamenting about how much they missed their children. I thought they were exaggerating at the time, making it up for the TV people. Now I get it.

And so, today, on this gloomy Sunday as my baby sleeps soundly next to my glowing monitor, I have a question. This one goes out to all the mothers and fathers out there. Have you ever left your babies behind before? If so, for how long? How old were they at the time? Was it hard? For those without kids, do you remember being left behind by your parents so they could win big in Vegas or sip cocktails in the Bahamas? Was it hard? Did you forget who they were when they got home?

Because that’s my biggest fear, that one day I’ll return home and Emory will look at me through confused eyes. I’ll arrive home again and he will no longer greet me with that great big smile.


  1. I just did the exact same thing. I have a baby who is four months old and I left to go meet my husband in Oregon. He had been working in Portland since wednesday (he usually telecommutes) and I left on friday to meet him for a holiday party. I got to the airport at 8 am friday and we came home together at 3:30 pm saturday. I missed the baby (Ben) so much I thought I might die. I very nearly broke down in tears in the middle of the party when I realized that it was time for him to eat and I wasn’t there to feed him. So hard. So, so hard to leave. But boy, it sure felt good to come home. Also? It felt good to sleep through the night.


  2. Um, my “baby” is 20 months and I have yet to leave her (overnight). I never could have left her before six months, because she WOULD NOT TAKE A BOTTLE before then.

    Suffice it to say, I’m ready at 20 months, but probably only for a night to start.


  3. I think one way to think about it is to think about what it was like to hear your parents when they called to say they were near the Holland Tunnel last week. What was it like when you saw them at your door? Then try to remember a time you had in your life when you had forgotten or were underwhelmed by their return from something.


  4. Willa won’t take a bottle, so I don’t think I’ll be leaving her overnight for a while. I actually think leaving her overnight would be a complete waste for me- I really like her- really enjoy her- and I spend any time apart from her missing her.
    Yes, I am THAT mom.


  5. Woah, there, Torrie. I think we all really like and enjoy being with our little guys. Spending a night away doesn’t mean we’re not totally into our babies. :]


  6. I remember my brother and I being left with our grandparents when our parents went on (~week-long) cruises in the Caribbean when we were less than ten years old. I didn’t feel left behind at all—not that I had any idea what I was missing. It was a vacation with grandma and grandpa!


  7. my parents went to hawaii without me when i was 4 and i still remember how sad and on the edge of constant devastation i was waiting for them to get home. i rode 200 miles in a pick-up truck with mr. jones, my mom’s teaching partner, to pick them up from the airport in south dakota and the happiness i felt when i saw them get off the plane is something i still remember. also, they got me a bicycle with sparklies on it when they got home. awesomest gift ever! and now, while i wait hopefully each month for a positive pregnancy test, i think of the contentment my parents offered me growing up and still offer me and how i might feel like that with my own child.


  8. I don’t have kids, but I don’t like leaving my cat behind when I go on holidays, so I can’t imagine the stress of leaving a child.

    My parents never left us at home whilst they went and did something, anything, ever. I kinda wish that they had – for both their sake and my sake.


  9. My “baby” is five years old (Bb2 is a year) I have only been away from the five year old for a night at a time and up until now I haven’t been able to leave her for longer, my situation is particular in that I live abroad from my parents and family so have no close people that I trust that I could leave her with in the past…as I write that I wonder why I didn’t ask friends, maybe I wasn’t ready. I was often left as a child and don’t remember any particular trauma from that.


  10. My parents watched my oldest son twice…once so we could go to a wedding (he was 4ish) and once so we could have a real date night (he was 5). My husband’s mother watched my oldest for a couple hours once so I could go to the dentist. And she watched both boys for an hour so we could attend a parent-teacher conference. Can you tell we don’t get out much?

    MY parents, on the other hand, were part of the 6pm cocktails crowd. They left me with a sitter ASAP after I arrived. I spent a lot of weekends with sitters. Same when my brother arrived. We had one sitter so often, he started calling her Mommy. My Dad was in the military too, so he would go away for VERY long stretches (months at a time) and yes, I forgot who he was. I would cry and run away from him whenever he got home. It would piss him off. Hello! I was 1 – 4 years old! Cut a kid some slack! lol

    Do we spend so much time with our boys because we felt neglected as kids? I don’t think so. We just have more fun doing stuff as a family (my boys are very well behaved in restaurants…I got lucky, plus we take them out to eat like twice a week so they are used to it.) But every once in a while I get the urge to have a night out alone. I went to a Pampered Chef party a couple months ago. Got pulled over for speeding on my way home. Maybe it was the universe’s way of telling me to keep my ass at home or take my kids with me. LOL


  11. Becky, your post had me laughing out loud. Thanks.


  12. Friday night was hard for me and I was only 10 minutes away from Logan. I don’t know how you did it. Even though she was with my mom, who had 4 of her own infants, including twins with colic, I still became more and more anxious as the night went on. Scott and I ducked out the door right after the Barbarians were introduced at 10:30 and that 10 minute drive hom felt like it took two hours. I rushed up the stairs expecting Logan to be screaming bloody murder but both her and my mom were sound asleep. I even tried to wake her up to eat but she only lasted 10 minutes and didn’t open her eyes once. I reluctantly put her back in her bassinet and went to sleep.

    As it turned out, she slept straight through until 5:30am. I could have gone to the after party and she wouldn’t have even known I was gone. The whole ordeal was harder on me than it was for her.


  13. When my husband and I separated, my girls were 2 and 5. He moved to Colorado, I stayed in Virginia. Visitation, in the beginning, was split with him having them for two 2 month periods the first year. The first time they came back from Colorado after being gone two months, they looks sooooo very different. I had a long two months while they were gone, but I was so glad to have them back in my arms afterwards. I felt awful for having missed those two months and seeing how much they had changed.


  14. The first time I left Adeline with a babysitter (two very close friends we trust implicitly) was to go to my cheesy 10 year high school reunion this summer. Adeline was 2 weeks old, and I cried when we dropped her off, and in the car on the way to the reunion. We stayed an hour, it was cheesy, but I missed her and we went home. I have yet to leave her overnight with anyone. My first day back to work, my husband brought her to visit during my dinner and I cried when I saw her. It made my first night back a little easier. He did that the next few days, as well. I have a lovely husband.

    I have no idea when we will leave Adeline overnight with anyone. She is almost 5 months old, and honestly, there’s only two couples we would trust her with, and they both have babies (one is 7 months, one is 2 weeks)…we would not want to leave her with either of our parents. Issues…don’t ask. :) Actually, we would leave her with my brother. But I cannot imagone choosing to go on a trip without her.

    My husband is a photojournalist and also shoots weddings. One of his weddings this summer was in Wisconsin (we live in Minnesota) so he was gone for 1 1/2 days. He missed her so much that he didn’t put her down for hours.

    But I don’t think Emory could forget you if you were gone a day or two. You’re his mom; he knows your smell, your face, your voice. He could not forget you.


  15. This is such a hard question – how and when to leave children.

    I once saw a man cry recounting a story in which his parents left for a week when he was five and he came to the conclusion that they were dead.

    On the other hand, I know people whose sense of themselves becomes compromised under the pressure of parenthood. They leave for a week and come back as refreshed parents. When I talk to these people, they say their marriage is stronger which is ultimately better for the family whole.

    My children are almost 5 and 2. I left the older overnight when I gave birth to the younger. Other than that, they have never been away more than 8 hours.

    …But they do spend 5 hours away with their grandmother every week.


  16. I think that there is a lot of unnecessary guilt being laid about on mum’s who take a night “off.” Be secure enough in the relationship you have with your child to know that you can never ever ever be replaced, no matter how much time you have been apart. I go through the same feelings of “will she remember me,” “will she still love” me every night I have to work late and miss her bed-time (she’s almost 2), or the occassional evening I go out with my husband for a much-needed date. And after a night away, I wake up with her the next morning, and she’s as happy as she ever was to see me.

    To be a good parent, I think, means developing a relationship of trust with your child, so that he knows that he’s your number one priority, and that you will always be there for him when he needs you. Let your child learn to trust you, and learn that when you go out for the night, and leave him with people that you love, such as your parents, that you always come back to him. And when children are little, they need you a lot, and it’s true, you can’t leave them for long. But a night or two away WILL NOT SCAR HIM FOR LIFE! Thinking that it will is simply an over-dramatization of reality. I know in the moment it feels like that’s what you’re doing, but it is useful to sit back and try to pull a bit of rationality back into things. You’ll just come home and hug and kiss him a lot more, and appreciate all the moments you have together all that much more. And you’ll be better equipped to handle the many other moments when you’re ready to tear your hair out and head for the hills. So taking a night or two to yourself and being apart, and reminding yourself of how freakin’ much you love the little guy is the best thing you can possibly do for both of you. It’ll make you a better mom. And expanding your son’s social network so that he learns that there are other people in his world to love and be loved by is a wonderful thing.

    So let go of the guilt, and to repeat myself – be secure in who you are, and the strength of your relationship with your child. And other mom’s should stop playing the “I’m a more devoted mother than you” game. It’s mean.


  17. Annie has a better answer.


  18. Agreed. I think that it’s probably a good thing for a marriage to have a much needed date out with your husband. I hope that we can do something together during our anniversary as well even if it means having my mother spend the night allowing us to stay out a little later than usual and have a bottle (or two) of wine. :]

    EVen though it hurt to be away from him, I think it’s an OK thing to spend time away from him. I don’t work so I’m here with him ALL the time. I love that, but I think everyone needs some alone time.


  19. I have two girls, a four year old and a 19 month old, and I have never left them overnight. The main reason for me, though, is that I’m in Australia and my family lives in Canada so I don’t have anyone I feel comfortable enough leaving them with for that long. My husband’s parents live here, but without actually saying it they have made it loud and clear they have no desire to even babysit let alone have an overnight visit. (They have looked after the four year old three times when we really needed it, though.) If we lived close to my family I would totally try an overnighter. I love my kids, but an entire night of not being responsible for every little thing for two little people would be such a welcome break!

    When I was about 10 and my brother about 8 my parents went to Spain for a week and I missed them a lot and cried every night when I talked to them on the phone to say goodnight. My mother actually gave me a little piece of paper that she kissed and left a lipstick print on so that I could give her a kiss goodnight each night – and I did! It really meant a lot to me then, and now. I remember the day they came back and how excited I was to see them. I was really happy and definitely did not forget them! (Though I assume you mean that for a bit younger then 10.) ;)


  20. I am leaving tomorrow morning and coming back on Saturday. It is the longest stretch I have gone without seeing my baby/child :-) The first few days I will be fine, but then I will want to come home. I wont lie, I love going to BlogHer every year and being a single lady. We do in fact go to Vegas once a year to get away. I think it is good for us. Charlotte stays with my mom, who she loves, and in this case she is staying home with my husband while I am away. I will miss the kid, the hubby and the cats. I like to be at home, but I like my solitude as well.



  21. my parents travel a lot for business. my mom took me to Colombia when i was 2 .I have very vague memories which i am sure are because my mom told me about it later. She said it was horrible for her and she never traveled w/ me again. Damn. I’m an idiot. I don’t remember if she kept traveling or stayed home w/ me. She grew to hate it an rarely does it now. But I am 33 and don’t live at home.


  22. I, too, miss my dog and cat when I go to work every day, so I can’t imagine missing my baby when I have to return to work ONLY 6 WEEKS after the birth next spring – what I wouldn’t do to live in some other country where women get longer leave. Thinking about it makes me so sad, but I’m the only earner in the family, so I have no choice.

    Unfortunately, our unplanned little blessing is being born straight in the middle of his dad’s absolutely non-negotiable YEAR long research trip to Brazil, a trip that was supposed to include me. So we trimmed back the research trip to 6 months, and I’m staying home. I plan on visiting my husband for a week while he’s gone. He already talks about how much he dreads having to leave, and I know I’ll probably call my parents to check on the baby 100 times in the first few days during my week away. But there’s no way I wouldn’t go. The time with my husband will be very special, and the homecoming to our son will be just sweet beyond words. I’m sure I’ll feel the same guilt and worry and sadness you did, though – it’s only natural. I suppose it makes us good and loving parents!


  23. I’ve left my 4 month old son with my Mom for two overnight visits so far. What a blessing to have my Mom so close by and so happy to care for our son. It sounds like your Mom and Dad adore spending this time with Emory, so think of it as a gift for them.

    And, I loved it when my Mom and Dad tooks trips when I was little. My sister and I would get to “vacation” as well with Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad would return tan, happy, rested psyched to see us, and with gifts, of course.


  24. P.S. – When I was 6-8 months old, my parents took a weeklong trip to Tahiti. I apparently had a grand time with close friends and squealed with delight when they returned. When I was 9 months old, my dad went on the boat (he was a Navy man) for 9 whole months. Apparently it took several months home for me to be cool with him again, but it left no lasting impression on me (it did on him – he changed jobs so he’d never have to do it again). Finally, when I was 12 and my siblings were 9,6,4, and 2, my parents left for a weeklong tour of Europe with my dad’s job. My mother sobbed her eyes out the morning they left, touching us all as we slept in our beds. We unsympathetically rolled our eyes at her for being so dramatic and had an excellent time with our cousins and aunts and uncles that week. She and dad came home refreshed and happy, and we were happy to see them and thrilled with our fun week with family. So, neither me nor my sibs ever suffered from our parents’ absences. :)


  25. There’s a great (and very sad) book about this – John Bowlby’s “Separation: Anxiety and Anger.” It details numerous studies about the outcomes of kids left by their parents for varying periods of time. The age of the child and the duration of the separation have a lot of bearing on the response. Infants seem ok. Ages 2 to 10 are particulary rough. In general, kids respond to the separation with anxiety and depression. When reunited with parents, they’re often aloof and angry and it takes them a while to warm up to parents (and indeed, trust them) again.

    I wrote a couple of papers about this for classes. My own forced separations from my parents due to their custody arrangement after their divorce undeniably damaged my relationships with both of them, almost beyond repair. This is why I want to get in to custodial evaluation….


  26. Yzz, thanks SO much for that thoughtful comment. I might have to check out that book now. And, of course, never go anywhere without my son. heh


  27. My husband and my 2 year old son are at my husband’s parents’ house…..8 hours away…for a week. Due to work committments, I was unable to make the trip. I bawled the minute they left and I will cry every time I talk to them on the phone. Luckily, my son is so happy-go-lucky, he’ll remember me and not resent me for not being with him. I beat myself up more than anything. This is our third week-long vacation away from eachother. I cry every time! I do enjoy some time alone though. I’m rambling. I miss my boys!


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