On missing your kids

I spent two days – and, ultimately, three nights – in Minneapolis at a seminar this week. Sierra and Isaac missed me. Missed me for real. To the point that they were asking where I was. To the point that, for the first time I can remember, they were concerned I was never coming home.

My first night back, I had scheduled a content strategy meet-up. I wasn’t home until just before bedtime. Sierra wanted to know if I was coming home.

“Is Daddy coming home?'”

For three days I wasn’t there. It was only natural to be concerned that I wasn’t coming home on the fourth.

This morning, I left early, as I often do on Fridays, to take care of things at work. Sierra woke up and wanted to see me. Had a fit when she realized she didn’t say “goodbye” to me.

“We’re not a family anymore,” she said.

Four days. And we’re not a family anymore.

I was going to write a blog post about how much her “DADDDDDIIIIEEE!!!” means to me, how awful I feel when I let her down – when I’m not there, even for a night, even when we all know I’m going to be back soon – and how it breaks my heart every night I have to try to sleep in a hotel alone, without telling her what my favorite part of the day was, without getting to hear what she learned at school, without feeling like she and Isaac own my life and that I’ve become that sappy dad that can’t handle being away from his kids for even a day or two.

I didn’t write that post.

Good thing I didn’t. Because Merlin Mann did. And holy shit, you guys. He WROTE the shit out of it.

From 43 Folders, “Cranking”:

Many mornings over the past six months or so, at almost exactly 6:00 AM Pacific Time, I was not in my regular bed. I was not even at home. I was sitting in another building, typing bullshit that I hoped would please my book editor. Who, by the way, is awesome.

And, if I noticed what time it was, I’d always wonder whether my daughter had run into our bedroom yet.

I’d wonder whether she had seen my side of the bed empty again. And, when I thought about my empty spot on the bed and how disappointed she’d be to scream “DAD-dy! DAD-dy! DAD-dy!” then see I’m not even there, I’d die a little.

I’d die a little, because as I thought about her, I’d think about my Dad. And as I thought about my Dad, I’d start thinking about hospital beds with cranks–then on to dents, and covered dishes, and rooms full of sobbing outdoorsy guys, and so on.

But, by then it might be 6:10 am Pacific Time. And I didn’t have time to think about my family. Not now, right? No, I had to keep working. I had to stay in that other building and keep typing bullshit that I hoped would please my editor. Who is awesome.

So, I’d type and type. I’d crank and crank. I’d try and try. I’d want very much to go home, make hot milk, and watch Toy Story 2. So much, I’d want this.

I dabbed at my eyes with my sleeve. I sat back and knew I had to say something. I realized it wouldn’t be enough. Because another person already hit it on the head. On. The. Head.

Excuse me. Gotta go hug my daughter, again.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 22nd, 2011