For the 20 years I've been going on business travel I've had a fantasy about happy homecomings. My family meeting me at the airport...the kids all excited to see me. Joy all around. It's never happened. For many practical reasons, I typically drive myself to the airport and trudge back to the parking garage when I get off the plane. But you have to walk through the throngs of people, all happy, with expectant smiles as they wait for their loved ones to appear. I walk through them, aggravated. Pardon me, excuse me, I've got trudging to do...
So I've started modifying that fantasy somewhat to the family just being happy to see me when I drive up. Now THAT I get. Occasionally. If it's convenient for them, the time's right and nothing better is going on, the kids will come running...Mommy! You're home! Hugs all around. Happiness.
Unfortunately, I'm typically only allotted about a minute or two of this happiness before the backlash. I've seen video of tsunamis coming, when the ocean recedes drastically before the big wave comes. Yeah, that's how it goes with the kids. ALL of the issues they have been saving for me while I was gone (the receding) comes all at once (tsunami)...and overwhelms me. Every crisis, every unresolved fight, every lost item, maybe a couple of highlights...all comes barreling at me at once. Welcome home.
Now granted, when I've been gone for a while, I miss things, but they barely want to talk to me while I'm gone. Guess it's more fun to handle the week in "batch mode". I understand they have stuff to talk to me about, but they were with their father, not some stranger all week. He's qualified. It's like they need a second opinion on their drama. To add to the mix, I'm typically hearing this on the heels of a LONG day of travel. Regardless of where you've traveled from, or for how long, travel is a long day. Not the best preparation for the "Judge Judy" meets "Jerry Springer" sideshow that meets me at the door.
So yesterday, we added a little twist. They left immediately after the happiness and didn't get to the onslaught until after they returned. Yeah, that wasn't much better. Within minutes of THEIR homecoming, I'm screaming at the kids to stop fighting. Nice. Mom's home.
To add to the fun, the kids did have a moment when they were getting along...and they knocked my wine glass off the table and broke it. (It was empty already. Of course I went straight to drinking...Did you read those previous paragraphs?) They were actually playing ball in the house! (Mom said no ball in the house!) I ran out of yelling by then. Welcome home.
I guess I should be happy about the fact that nothing changes when I'm gone. This is my life and there is comfort in its consistency. They miss me. I miss them. They drive me nuts. I love them. But it's really hard to not hope for the magical homecoming. I fantasize about how it could be EVERY time.
Well, I'm leaving again Tuesday. We'll get another shot at this.