Monday, June 11, 2012

Gone but not Forgotten?

Mrs. Blackwell and I took a road trip last week. We're relocating about 400 miles away from our current home so we had to scout out a new place to live, find a day care and some  other essentials. 

This was our first time being away from our little guy for more than 24 hours and he stayed with Mrs. Blackwell's parents. On the matter of grandparents you can find no better babysitters. However, that didn't stop us from worrying and, in general, being struck with near-crippling guilt.

"Son? What son? And hey, another round of shots for my wife and I!"
"He's just five weeks old; is it OK to leave him yet?" 

The answer to this question is different for everyone but, when you've got a healthy baby and great parents like Mrs. Blackwell and I do, it's really not one that requires hours of deliberation.

This is the logical part of a parent's brain which, as I'm learning, takes a complete back seat to raw emotion in many, many instances. 

So, instead of matter-of-factly realizing that it wouldn't be fair for us to bring our little guy with us on this particular trip (an expedition in which we visited no fewer than a dozen different potential homes and several day cares) guilt takes over.

"How could we leave him?"

"What kind of coldhearted cretins could do such a thing?"

"This is a crucial time in his development and parents should be there for every waking moment of it."
Throughout our trip, we were asked where our son was. 

As I often do, I used humor as a crutch. And, as so often happens, my particular brand of humor was not, in fact, viewed as humorous. Such was the case when we were asked by a real estate agent where our son was. Seeing my moment I replied: "Oh he's just hanging out in the car."

Surpisingly, this brilliant gem of a witticism was met with a bemused stare. Fortunately my wife rectified these awkward moments with hasty explanations that I was just joking. (When a joke has to be explained, it ain't a joke; it's a memory you'd rather forget. I hope our son has better luck than his dad when trying to get a laugh with strangers.)

So, add embarrassment to my guilt. 

Sure, he's going away for mail fraud BUT, my boy will always 
remember his parents.
Once the self-flagellation waned, my mind wandered toward the consequences of our dereliction. 

Would our son inexplicably remember our abandonment and never forgive us? Perhaps he'd spend his life lashing out at authority and "the man" when he really just wanted to even the score with his parents who    clearly    didn't love him enough. 

Or maybe    and this was Mrs. Blackwell's favorite    he'd forget who we were and we'd return to Mrs. Blackwell's folk's place greeted by a son who shrieked when confronted with these two foreigners. I'm not sure what it says about me that raising a delinquent drain on society is preferable to  being forgotten by my son. 

When we returned, we were greeted with a baby very much resembling the little boy we left, though his face had plumped up a bit. 

Ultimately all we can take from this is the very real, very unenjoyable reality that many, many parents face every single day. Sure, you'd love to spend every moment with your kid but the responsibilities of life have a way of intruding on this desire. 

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