It's challenging to get a thirteen year old packed for an overseas trip. In between his own thoughts and excitement and mental lists--and his dangling earphones--I attempt to share travel wisdom with my son.
"Watch, really watch, are you watching? This is how you roll your clothes tightly so you create more room in your luggage. You try."
"Here are some plastic Ziploc bags. They might come in handy while in Japan. Are you watching? Did you see where I put them?"
"I am putting these antibacterial wipes in this pocket, okay?"
"Stay close to Dad. Here are all the contact numbers you will need in case you get separated."
"Are you excited?"
I feel as if I am going to forget to tell him something. Each time this feeling rises in me, I remind myself that he has travelled quite a bit. He knows what he is doing and he is going with his father. He has packed his own bags often enough to know how to efficiently pack a bag. I go to sleep thinking all the bases have been covered.
I wake up early in the morning and hear him shower and eat his breakfast while I lie in bed. I go in and out of sleep, cozy in my nest, waiting for him to come kiss me goodbye. He does.
As he closes the front door, I make it to the window in time to watch him get in the taxi and wave a last goodbye. He looks different.
I spend all day tracking his flight. First to Paris then over northern Siberia to places I have never been and will never go. I know how long he has travelled and how long he has to go. I watch his plane on the map to see where his flight turns south to head for his destination. So far away now.
Suddenly, I think of my mother and all the times she said goodbye to me standing on her porch as I left to travel half way around the world many times. A part of me wants to shout, "fly, fly, fly, my son, I am so happy for you," while another part of me feels the awkward tug of separation.
Ah, so this is what it really feels like to be a mother.