Last night, the three of us snuggled in the big bed after Little Man's nightly bath. I had been feeling run down and sore, the effects of a stupid tetanus booster, but all the frustration of feeling so cruddy melted away with the smell of his wet hair and his lankly body snuggled against me to read our nightly books.
"Pretty soon mama's going on an airplane, but I'll come back soon."
"Little Man airpain too."
"No, honey. Mama's gotta go by herself, but you and Papa will have fun together."
I know it's stupid. That hundreds and thousands of women leave their children for business--or for pleasure. I just never have, and this is hard for me. Rationally, I know this is the last big piece of the dissertation puzzle--working in the Hemingway archive. Emotionally, I want to take them both with me, even though I'll be unavailable from 8:30 until 4:30 every day I'm gone.
I'm not sure he understands I'm going tomorrow. I'm leaving too early in the morning to really say goodbye to him, and I'm afraid he'll be angry at me when I get back. We're buddies, he and I.
"But after I get home, then we all are going on an airplane. We're going to the beach."
"Yep, the ocean. We're all going to go together and be together for a whole week. What will we see at the ocean?"
"Fishies. Dolphies. Ducky," he tells me, the tone of his voice raising for each word, almost question-like.
"Ducky? Oh honey, there aren't duckies in the ocean."
"Duckie oshee," he insists, shaking his head in the affirmative.
"But Duckies don't live in the ocean. Maybe sea gulls or pelicans."
He gets out his Spot Goes to the Beach book, and sure enough, there is a ducky--the blue and pink spotted inner tube that Spot wears. He's so smart that I can hardly stand it sometimes.
"You're right. Duckies. Maybe we'll get a ducky for you to have at the beach."
He grins in excitement.
"Just the three of us. One. Two. Three," I say pointing to each of us in turn. "Because we're a family."
"One, two, pee," he repeats again and again, pointing to each one of us in turn. Proud of his accomplishment. Seemingly, understanding.
Because we're in it together. We're a family.