I took a trip with my daughter over the weekend to attend my niece's high school graduation in Denver. I thought it would be a nice way to spend some time with her one on one, girl to girl. What I didn't expect was the anxiety such a trip cause. It started before we even left home. She and her brother were both acting out in every conceivable way. They were fist fighting in the car on the way home from school. They were crying and whining about everything. I was floored. How could they be so upset about me taking her on a trip for two and a half days? Well, they were. She was nervous about leaving Luke and Daddy and Luke was mad about being left out. As usual, nothing is ever easy.
Her anxiety intensified when we got to the airport to board the plane. We were waiting in the gate area and there was a little boy in his pajamas sitting across from us. "Mommy, look at his face. It looks just like Luke's. The only difference is that he has hair like mine. I miss Lukie and Daddy!" She stated as tears began to roll down her cheeks. Oh, no. Not tears. Then to add insult to injury, my husband called. "I miss you too," he tried to comfort her. That just made things worse. More tears and more comparisons about the little boy and Luke. My plan was definitely in backfire mode.
When we finally got on the plane we settled in and she played with her DS. Whew, I thought, we got past the tears, now we can have fun. I ordered a glass of wine for myself and a Sprite for her. Two minutes later, she hit the tray table in front of me and the wine, water and Sprite that were not at all precariously perched fell onto my lap and also on the woman next to me. More tears. "You are mad at me. I know it, mommy!!" Heavy sigh. "No I am not mad at you." I reassured her. "But I think it is time for you to lay down and go to sleep." With that she laid her head on my lap and we were lulled to sleep by the purring of the engines. We got off the plane in Denver only to realize that we had left the DS in the seat pocket.
The weekend went by quickly. We went to the convocation ceremony, the graduation and the all important graduation luncheon. We had a lot of fun together and she got to spend time with her favorite cousin. Her anxiety seemed at bay. Then that night, at 4:30 a.m., she woke up and exclaimed,"My tummy hurts! I am scared." I quickly carried her to the bathroom where she promptly threw up. Great, I thought, we are flying home today and now she has the flu.
I put her back to bed and went back to sleep myself, dreading the morning. When we woke up, she exclaimed again, "My tummy hurts and I am scared Mommy!" I wondered what she was afraid of so I asked her. "I am afraid that I am going to throw up." Interesting, I thought. Why would throwing up make her afraid? Of course my mind wandered back to my illness and whether she was feeling afraid of being sick like mommy was. Maybe yes, maybe no, but I couldn't help but wonder.
So we were boarding the plane to go home and we were walking down the jet way when she threw up again. At this point it just became comical. I just wanted to go home. I told the flight attendant about the mess and went to our seats to hide, grabbing barf bags from as many seats as I could on my way. Four hours later we arrived home. I had to get a wheelchair to get her off the plane because I couldn't carry her ( no heavy lifting after an axillary node dissection). We were escorted and transported to baggage claim. Finally we saw my son and husband and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Almost instantly though, I realized that even though my little girl was scared, I wasn't. Because despite all of these obstacles we had to overcome just to get to Denver and then home, we were just going to get through it, one step at a time.