A few weeks ago, I asked for help preparing for a parenting milestone: my first trip without my baby. And the CoJ community delivered! You reminded me that it was normal to feel both excited and terrified, and as everyone predicted, both Ella and I were 100% fine in our time apart. During all bouts of homesickness, nine things helped me stay present and enjoy my time away…
1) To prepare our hearts for three days apart, I decided to make Ella’s and my last day together extra fun. So we dressed in coordinating outfits, had Philly cheesesteaks for dinner at the farmers market with Max, and stayed up late watching Bluey. It was pure bliss.
2) The next morning I had one goal: Execute a quick and painless goodbye. The thought of her crying as I backed out of the driveway made me sick to my stomach. So I said our goodbyes, just like when I left for the grocery store. Just a few smooches on the face, a kiss on the cheek and a warm “I love you.” But I insisted on carrying her from the house to the car instead of saying goodbye on the doorstep. Holding her for those few extra steps was the gentle send off I needed.
3) I’m not kidding you when I say that this The Cup of Jo comment section was my personal talisman against mom guilt. Every time I started thinking, “Should I even be here right now?”, “Am I a bad mom?”, “I should FaceTime…”, I’d whip out my phone and read all the wisdom you lovely people left behind. After a few minutes my worries went away and I remembered that I deserve to have parenting breaks and it’s good to have fun without my kid!
4) “I don’t have to share this popcorn with anyone!” was one of the first of many thoughts I had during my journey when I realized I was free to do whatever I wanted. I could stay up until 2 a.m. without worrying about waking up four hours later to take care of a baby. I could stand in line for popular rides without fear of dealing with a meltdown. Shoot, I could even RIDE all the popular rides. And I could tell all the jokes I wanted without making any words or stories ‘kid friendly’. Ecstasy!
5) There were four other moms on the trip which was a game changer. I turned to them when I needed to talk about baby stuff because that’s what they wanted to talk about too. On the flight, I sat next to my pregnant friend, Kayla, and another mother, Silvia. For the entire flight we shared baby equipment, birth stories and milestones. Those conversations gave me reason.
6) There was one piece of advice everyone agreed on: No FaceTime! So instead of video calls, my husband Max and my mother-in-law sent me daily Ella updates. Every morning I woke up to a text telling me how she slept and her itinerary for the day. Every night I received a flood of videos and pictures which always boost my serotonin levels.
7) Guilt is ridiculous. Because—get this—when I finally stopped feeling mom-guilt, I felt guilty for feeling guilty in the first place. I know. So when that happened, I turned to another piece of advice from the comments section; “Let yourself feel ALL the emotions.” Every time I felt bad about feeling bad at my boyfriend’s bachelor party, I gave myself grace. I could remember that what I felt was natural; I am human and my feelings are valid.
8) When I was a little girl, I felt excited and special when my grandfather returned home from business trips with a little souvenir for me. I wanted to recreate that experience with Ella, so I scouted the park for the perfect gift. At the end of the day, my friend Kayla tipped me off this baby Moana set. Ella loves the movie and I even think she looks like baby Moana. That was the point.
9) One of the best moments of the trip was running into my CoJ guardian angel. The first morning I was at the airport waiting for my friends to arrive. I had just taken a selfie in the bathroom and sat by the gate to eat a bagel. Suddenly I hear a woman’s voice: “Hello! Are you Jannelle from Cup of Jo?” I look up to see a friendly face. “I’m reading your post about leaving Ella, and I want you to know that she’s going to be okay,” she told me. “She’s going to have a great time and you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your ride, you deserve this!” After that meeting I knew everything was going to be fine.
thoughts? How was your first trip after children?