Andrea left Monday night for Switzerland and England, leaving me home with the boys for the next nine days. A few times a year, this happens (although her destinations vary), but I am always nervous about what the week will bring. Usually, nothing happens, but every so often…
In October of 2009, the perfect storm developed when Andrea was in Brazil (I think). At work, we were getting ready to launch our new intranet. It was a project we had been working hard on for 10 months and was scheduled to launch on the evening of the 23rd (a Friday). Coincidentally, the 23rd also happened to be Andrea’s and I’s 10th anniversary, which we were forced to spend apart.
Earlier that week, I had some flu symptoms that kept me home from work, but I didn’t think much of it, even though it lingered all week. On Wednesday, Ben started showing a bit of a fever. By Thursday, Matthew was showing signs of coming down with something, as well. On Friday, D-day for me at work, I woke to Matthew crying and yelling from his room. I went to get him and he was burning up. He would end up showing a fever of over 103 on the thermometer (it went down within 15 minutes of Tylenol). Ben woke up next, also very warm with a sick stomach and a runny nose. When I called the doctor, she told me to stay away from her office (but not that bluntly) because she was pretty certain we had the Swine Flu. She told me what to watch for and what to do if anything got worse.
While the fear and the stress of that day has burned a sharp memory in my brain, there are few times that I felt more dad like than that. I felt like Superman that day, even with a pocket of kryptonite. For most of the day, I sat on the couch with my computer in my lap and the boys in their pajamas snuggling up on either side of me with Nick Jr. on the TV (one of these days, I need to devote a post to kids shows like “Yo Gabba Gabba”). It’s a bittersweet memory for me. I was able to get my job done and care for the kids at the same time.
Last Spring, Andrea went to Switzerland and was suppose to go from there to Chile. At the same time, a volcano in Iceland had shut down most of Europe’s airports, “stranding” Andrea in Switzerland. What followed was a few of the most surreal days either of us had experienced. She desperately was trying to get home (the Chile leg of the trip had to be cancelled). Benjamin and Matthew, of course, had a million questions about volcanoes and why mommy couldn’t get home.
When she finally did get home, we met here at the airport. Interestingly, Matthew wouldn’t go to her. He kept hiding behind me and kept mumbling stuff about volcanoes. Eventually, he did warm up, and all was well.
This trip, something has changed a bit with the boys. They seem to sense her absence more than they had before and are expressing it differently. Benjamin almost never gets sick, and most of his illnesses in the last three years had occurred when Andrea was travelling. He also would spend a few nights while she was gone in our bed, which is extremely rare for him. So, while he didn’t express missing his mommy, it clearly affected him. With Matthew, as he showed when Andrea came back from Switzerland last time, shuts down a bit or puts up a defense.
This time, they are talking about her being gone more and are shedding a few tears, but this feels a lot healthier and I am proud of my little boys for getting through this. Lets hope it continues.