My friend walks from one side of the hotel suite to the next, out onto the balcony, and then into the hallway to find a better signal so she can Facetime with her kids. She's been away from them for five days and they tell her how their day was and what happened at school.
She misses them fiercely and I feel a pang for my own daughter, at home on the other side of the continent.
But I don't Facetime. I don't Skype. I don't call.
Despite the fact that I miss her in a way that makes me want to hug every child I pass in the hotel hallway (oh the babies!), I worry about hearing that tiny, choked up voice on the other end of the line. The voice that wishes I could walk through the door and scoop her up right then and there.
I don't call because I worry it'll make the distance seem even farther.
I don't call because I worry I won't be able to disguise my own tears under our goodnights and I love yous.
I don't call because that one time when I did call, all of those things happened and it felt like shit.
We're all familiar with the mom guilt, yeah?
"Should I travel without my kid?", "Is it ok to leave for two/four/ten days?", "What if she needs me?", "What if something happens?", FOMO OMG WTF FML.
Maybe now that my daughter is seven, calling home to chat would be an easier thing. Maybe she'd be totally pumped and excited to hear from me. Maybe I'm the only one who will be fighting back tears... but at this point I'm too afraid to try. I send snapshots to her gramma over Facebook instead. A little "this is what mama's up to right now".
I don't call, because of the lump in the back of my throat. Because I miss her so much it hurts. Because it might cast a bleary shadow over her day and mine.
My friend feels closer when she calls her kids at home but it makes me feel like I'm somewhere orbiting Jupiter or one of those jerk planets that's not a planet anymore.
In the end, we're just two mamas missing our kids. And coping the way we know how to cope.
Maybe someday I'll pluck up the courage to call, but right now I'm just not ready. There's a fear sitting in the pit of my stomach that tells me it might be too painful. While I can shush the mom guilt that tells me I shouldn't leave her for five days -- because I know it's absolutely acceptable and even GOOD for me to do so -- I still can't shake the feeling that it'd be heartbreaking to hear each other's voices.
I tell myself that maybe next time I'll call. Maybe next time it'll be easier.
I'm just not sure if I mean it'll be easier for her. Or for me.