That Which Brings Them Together Also Tears Them Apart

April 16, 2011

Oof, what a week.

Man, am I nuts.

The girls have been scheduled to travel to the middle of the country for their April vacation for some time.  I think we bought the tickets in February.  They haven’t been there or seen the Ex since November.  Since then, a baby was born, who they are both excited to meet.  Also, their grandparents are visiting from Florida during the same week just to see the girls, who they haven’t seen in quite some time.  The trip is an important one.

After we bought the tickets, I noticed that there is a crew race and two soccer games while they’re gone.  Silly us for assuming “April vacation” meant, you know, “vacation.”

Soccer for Mouse not such a big deal.  Crew for Lemon, though, I was a little worried.  She told me (several times) that it was no big deal, and that it was essentially “optional” for the freshman/novice team.  The race is a varsity race, so the novices are fine. I still squirmed, because so far this year, there have been two varsity races and no novice races.  And Lemon has raced two times.

On Wednesday night, I received an email from the varsity coach.  Actually, Lemon received the email, WD and I were cc’d.

They need her at varsity practices this week and next, and need her in the race next weekend.  “It looks like you may be the first freshman to earn a varsity letter!” he says in closing.

She’s all a-tizzy.  She really wants to race.  She really wants to do this.

She calls the Ex.  I brace myself for an explosion —

Instead?  He understands.  Of course he does.  I guess I kind of forgot that he was a 3/sport guy in high school, and at least 2 in college.  He cares about sports.  He understands that being on a varsity team as a freshman is a big deal, and he’s proud to hear that she may be the first freshman in Crew history (at our school, of course), to earn a varsity letter.

He asks if she can work it out to come at least some of the time.  She says yes.

I spoke with him a few times, and he really does understand.  He is truly okay with it.  Not okay with her and then yelling at me.  Truly happy for her and proud.

Ahhhh.  It feels good.

In the meantime, there’s Mouse.  My girl who fears flying.  Who starts stressing about getting on a plane at least 48 hours in advance of the flight-time, and who spends the evening before a flight in tears talking about potential crashes.

Lemon and Mouse have been flying unaccompanied for a few years.  I thought that was part of what brings Mouse the stress, but we’ve flown as a family a few times since, and the stress is no less.

Lemon coming home early (by several days) means that, with the plans as they stand, Mouse has to fly home alone.  Which I knew would be problematic.

But she expressed it by saying she was unwilling to STAY alone.  To be in the Middle of the Country at all without her sister. Not the first time we’ve heard this from her, and she was no less passionate this time: “If you make me, I will run away.  Right now, I will walk out that door!”  (WD then pointed out that it was raining and cold outside, and she had nowhere to go.  I then told WD to be quiet!  that is not the point!  She is obviously sad and upset, and we can help her to feel better without stating the obvious! He said “okay” and we moved on.)

Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to be volleyed between two crying girls?  One because she can’t let her team down, and the other because she’s feeling forced into a very uncomfortable situation over which she has zero control?  When the solution for one is the problem for the other?  It’s sooooo exhausting.

I really feel for Mouse.  I know that she struggles with her relationship with her father AND with her fear of flying (maybe there is a common root there, but they are right now two distinct struggles).

So, I sweetened the pot.

“Mouse, you really should stay.  But I understand you don’t want to fly alone.  I will come there and fly with you.”


This is where I went crazy:

“I will come, and drive you home.”

Wait?  Did I just say that?

“Oh, you will?  [she ponders] I really do want to spend time with the baby.  And I do miss Grandma, and she is a lot of fun.  And it will be good to see dad, too.”

So, I go and look into one-way flights to the Middle of the Country.  $109 for a one-way flight.  Totally do-able.  Rental cars aren’t so expensive, right?

Turns out, they are.  Especially if you’re going one-way and they charge by the mile.

$720 expensive.

Then I go super-crazy:

I’m taking Friday off.  I’m filling my cute little hybrid full of gas, and I’m getting on the road at 7 a.m.  I am driving to my more-than-midway point of Elkhart, Indiana.  I am sleeping.  I am getting up on Saturday, and driving the rest of the way to the Middle of the Country (which is not the true center, by the way – it is east of center), and I am fetching my daughter.  We will have lunch together.  Then we will get in the car.

And I will do it again.


36 hours of driving in 3 days.

Go mom!!!!

Friends, parents, and husband have weighed in:  “You are insane.”

But you know, I respond to that with two points:  (1) I’m due a road trip.  Yes, I admit that it would be better if I had at least 2 extra days for this particular trip, but I haven’t had a nice, long drive in a while.  (2) I have no problem doing this for Mouse.  A lot is asked of her as a result of her parents’ divorce.  She never likes leaving home for her occasional visits.  She hates to fly. She’s been very clear that she prefers to be with her sister during these visits.  Now, we’re telling her you have to leave home, you have to fly, and you have to be there without your sister.  If I can make this easier on her – especially considering that I know, and I’m sure the Ex does, too, that this is far from the last time that this sort of arrangement will be required as the girls get older – I will do so.  I personally feel that she deserves it.

I told her this is a one-time thing.  Maybe it’s a perfect time for the one-time thing, too.  She’s a month shy of turning 13.  She’s dipping into the adolescent funk more and more frequently.  This may be the last time for a while that the idea of an 18 hour drive (including an overnight at a hotel) 1:1 with her mother makes her eyes light up.  She is truly excited about it.

And I think it will be fun to get back in the car on Sunday and open the trunk to pull out her Easter basket.   🙂

I am, however, bummed to miss Lemon’s race.  But it looks like there will be plenty others!


  1. […] The angst that they have about the visits to the Middle of the Country has always been something that brings them together. But while things were unfolding this week, I saw sides of their relationship that I’m not always privy to.  When Lemon made the decision to come home early, and Mouse was upset – Lemon consoled her sister.  She gave her a hug, and she said, “Mouse, we can video chat every night.  I will email you, and we can talk, and we’ll stay in touch.”  And Lemon accepted the hug.  (for at least 30 seconds before they started elbowing each other and giggling and falling on the floor.) […]

  2. […] I’ve mentioned (ad nauseum?) – I am driving to the middle of the country this coming weekend.  Mouse […]

  3. […] My 3-day drive-a-thon went as well as could be expected.  Perhaps I could have had less rain, but it didn’t slow me down.  Perhaps I could have gone without the brunch with the in-laws, but it was virtually painless.  Perhaps I could have a 16 yo with a driver’s license, instead of an almost-13-year-old with the propensity for napping, but that will come with time. […]

  4. […] year, he had them for April vacation.  But then Lemon had a conflict.  He was quicker to accommodate than I anticipated, and it went okay. I got some me-time in, and my car got some additional […]

  5. […] And I’m not sure why she has these anxieties.  But she does.  Not only about babies being born instantaneously, but also about getting in an airplane. […]

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