Tag Archives: balancing work and children

Explaining Travel to Emma

I flew back to Aspen, Colorado yesterday, alone.  Explaining to Emma why I had to return so quickly was difficult.  First of all I don’t know how much she understands and since she cannot ask me questions the way her older, neuro-typical, brother, Nic does, I cannot know what goes through her mind.  So when I told both children ten days ago that I was going to have to go back to Aspen because of my store, Nic said, “NOOOOOO!  You only just came home!  That’s so unfair, Mom.  Why do you have to go back?”

Emma remained silent.  I explained that there were things I needed to take care of at the store, that it was part of the deal with owning one’s own business, it’s just what one has to do.  After awhile, Emma wandered away muttering, “Sleep, wake up, camp on the lake, sleep, wake up, get on airplane.”

Nic meanwhile was angry, then teary, then resigned.  “I know, honey.  It’s a drag.  But you, Daddy and Em will come out in August so it won’t be so long this time that we’re all apart.”

“No Mom.  It’s not a drag.  This sucks,” he said, before turning away from me, his arms crossed, to stare out the window.

“I’m so sorry, Nicky.”

And as sorry as I was that Nic was upset, I wondered what was going on through Emma’s mind.  Was she just accepting that this was how things were, did she have questions?  What was she feeling?

Impossible for me to know.

This past weekend I pulled out a calendar and went over it with Nic and Emma.  Pointing to various dates, I said, “Okay so this is when I have to leave.”

“Get on airplane, fly back to Aspen,” Emma said, looking at the box with the number 19 on it where my finger was positioned.

“Yeah.  That’s right Em.  That’s the day I have to go back.”

“Sleep, wake up, get on airplane,” she said.

“Just me, Em.  You guys are going to go to camp and stay in New York with Daddy,” I explained.  “Then look, on this day you, Daddy, Nic and Jackie are going to fly out to Aspen.  That’s in twelve days.  And here, this is when Joe comes out and Jackie has to go back, then here is when we all fly back to New York together.”  I looked at both of them.  “Okay?”

“I don’t want you to go again.  We’ve only had you for like three days,” Nic said.

“Two weeks.”  I put my arm around him.  “I know.  I know.”

“It’s not fair,” Nic said.

“Sleep, wake up, sleep wake up…”  Emma began, counting on her fingers how many sleep, wake ups it would be before they flew out to Aspen to meet me.  “Go to YMCA with just Mommy?”  Emma said after she had finished counting out 12 “sleep, wake ups”.

“No, Em.  But Daddy will take you.”

“Go to YMCA with just Daddy,” she repeated and then scooted away on her scooter.

Yesterday morning as I was gathering my things to go downstairs, Emma ran over to me and threw her arms around me.  “Bye Mommy!” She said, burying her face into me.

“I’m going to miss you so much, Em.”

“Miss you,” she said, before pulling away.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com

“I’m Home” – Autism

When I opened the door to our loft, Emma came tearing up on her scooter shouting, “Mommy’s back!  It’s Mommy!”

As I dropped my bags and opened my arms to greet her, she sped away.  Nic meanwhile rushed up to me and threw his arms around my waist.  “Mommy!” he cried, “It’s so good to have you home.  I missed you so much!”

As I hugged Nic and then Richard, I said to Emma, “Hey.  I want a hug from you too.  Come over here, Em!  Remember?  Put your arms around and …”

“Squeeze!”  she shouted, while complying.  She peered up at me, with an odd expression on her face.  Then she pointed to my face and said, “It’s Mommy.  Mommy came back,” as though she hadn’t been sure I would.

“I’m back Emmy.  It’s so good to be back.”

“Yeah, Mommy came back.  Mommy stayed at Granma’s house.  Mommy had to go away,” she said, nodding her head sympathetically.

“It’s okay, Em.  Now I’m home.  I’m not going anywhere.”

Nic then played five different songs on his new Alto Sax for me, two new songs which he composed for the piano and then plugged his electric guitar into his amp and riffed on several more.  Emma scooted around on her scooter and eventually it was time for everyone to go to bed.

“Mommy come to Emma’s room,” Emma said, taking me by the hand.

“Yes!” I said following her.

“Mommy’s back,” Emma whispered as she snuggled down under her blanket.

“Yes, Em.  I’m home,” I said stroking her cheek.

Later Nic expressed his upset that I was away for almost three weeks.  He was able to tell me that he didn’t like that I was gone for such a long time.  But Emma…  Emma doesn’t have the words to express her upset nor does she have the ability to ask me why I was away.  I can only hope she understands I had to go for work, but I don’t know that she does understand.  When she looked up at me earlier it was with a mixture of shock at seeing me again and happiness.  I don’t know whether I’m reading more into her expression than was actually there, but given that she isn’t able to ask me, who knows what reasons she applied to my absence.

“Go swimming with Mommy,” Emma whispered.

“Yes,” I said.  “We’ll do that tomorrow.”

“No, not going to go back to Aspen,” she said, holding my hand.

“Nope.  Tomorrow we’re going to spend the whole day together.”

We were quiet then.  “Mommy sing?” Emma said after awhile.

“Sure, Em.  Which one – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or Summertime?”

“Swing Low first, then Summertime,” Emma said.

“I love you Em,” I whispered.

“So much,” Emma finished.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com