Last week, we watched snippets of a submarine special that is on youtube. She saw what it looks like where daddy sleeps, eats (she was especially facinated that they can COOK under water), and a little bit about what his work looks like. So even when we're far apart, she has some point of reference she can draw from. (She also wants to go on a submarine someday "just like daddy". I encouraged her dreams - as always.)
This week, we took a break and headed to Great Wolf Lodge for 1 night. We only do the water park and come home, especially during Covid. It was my first time chasing a 5 year old around a water park, but The Impossible Girl is did really well. Despite an unpredictable start to the day - an absence seizure on her way out of the car at school - the trip went very smoothly. She listened to all instructions and followed all the rules with no complaint. She was thrilled to pop in the wave pool and add her gleeful nonsense words into the din of crashing waves. We didn't have a melt down...
Until we were on our way out.
As we were packing up to leave the water park (which she delayed as long as possible), we were talking about coming back someday. I mentioned to her that I'd talked to My Sailor about coming back for TWO nights when he gets home, so she can do the water slides with them. That triggered the reminder that he wasn't there with us. For the next 15 minutes or so, she quietly cried, repeating 'Daddy daddy daddy' over and over again. I scooped her into my lap and hugged her. This was the melt down I had expected when he left months ago. For some reason, it needed to happened now.
She didn't stop crying quietly, murmuring 'Daddy' as we walked back to the room hand in hand. I'm sure people nearby thought Dad was at the snack stand or something, but Dad was much farther away. I sat down on a towel on the floor. She pulled off her mask and opened her mouth in a silent scream. I opened my arms and she ran into my lap and sobbed for 15 minutes, unable to get out more than a sob and the word 'Daddy'. I asked her if she was sad because we were leaving. She shook her head no. It was what I thought. "Are you crying because you miss Daddy?" She nodded and sobbed. We hugged and rocked and shed some tears together for a while. I reassured her that we'll have days like this and it's okay to hurt. It means you love him. I assured her we're going to be okay, and that if she ever feels like this again, she can tell me (or a teacher at school) and we can hug it out until it passes a bit and she feels ready to move on.
We got home and there happened to be a package waiting from a Disney pal, which included some tea and "Emergency Tiaras" because sometimes we all need them, right?
These are the day to day challenges. It's normal to see behavior regressions and a flurry of emotions. Sometimes the flurry is more like an avalanche...