Business trips can be harder than you think

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 30, 2010

Somehow Gibson knew something was up.

Despite our efforts to make the morning routine exactly the same as every day before, our 13-month-old son sensed Mom would be leaving for more than a few minutes.

So when my wife approached the door Thursday morning to load up her bags for a two-day business trip, Gibson immediately went for the legs.

What started out as quiet whimpering turned into wailing as my wife reached for the knob.

Watching the scene unfold, I didn’t know how to react. Gibson has rarely shown signs of separation anxiety before.

My first thought was, “How in the world did you know Mom was leaving for a trip?” My second thought was, “Wait a minute. What about Dad, Gibson? I can take care of you just as well as Mom, can’t I?”

After all, I have already demonstrated I can perform all of the basic parenting duties. I have fed Gibson. I have bathed him. I have changed his diapers. I have even taken him on a father-and-son outing to Jackson for the day.

If they gave out merit badges for parenting, I would have at least earned a few.

But none of that seemed to matter Thursday. As I picked him up, Gibson flung his arms toward Mom and continued to cry.

“It is OK. You will be with Daddy,” my wife said with a smile as she kissed both of our cheeks.

No matter the smiles, the kisses or the reassuring hugs, the pleading continued.

Of course, I could have told Gibson that the appeals were fruitless. After all I had been making similar pleas ever since I found out my wife was going to have to make this trip.

When I got the first whiff of her plans, my whimpering started.

“Can’t you postpone?,” I asked. “Or maybe you could take Gibson with you? What about just not going?” The answer to all three questions was the same — no.

If Gibson had his doubts, so too did I. However mine were less about my abilities as a Dad and more about being without backup.

After all, with Mom away on a business trip, I was a little like a tightrope artist making that first trip above the circus ring without a safety net.

Since Gibson was born, parenting has always been a collaboration between my wife and me.

We have discovered it really is a two-person job, especially in those times when either one of us cannot seem to console our son’s crying or we run out of steam keeping up with his never-ending energy.

We may not have the answers to every problem, but we are there to support one another.

The few times I have been alone with Gibson for an extended period of time have made me respect those single parents who hold down a job, keep the house clean and still are able to raise one or more children. I am not sure I could do it.

So when my wife planned this trip, my own case of separation anxiety started.

Obviously Gibson knew something was up and fed off of my own fears.

As a new father, I never realized that I would have similar worries as my child.

After all, I am old enough to understand that such worries are usually overblown — or so I thought.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3550 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.