This time next week I’ll be waking up in Calgary, Alberta which is like 1000 km away. My kids and my husband won’t be with me. YOU GUYS!! I haven’t done this since my middle child was 18 months old (he’s now 6), and that was a two night Whistler staguette for an old college friend. I cried both those nights in the hotel room I shared with women I barely knew. Thankfully, they were all passed out from drinking while I cried my sober self to sleep.

Whistler is a two hour drive away. Next week, I’m leavin’ on a jet plane!

I didn’t think twice about booking this trip; my youngest cousin (my little sister, really) is graduating from medical school and I am unbelievably proud of her. I feel like I went through these past 3 years with her, getting nervous for exams, anxious about steely preceptors, and feeling relieved when each rotation ended. Though we have an age gap of 12 years, she is one of my best friends. I remember the day she was born, getting the call from my grandparents. I remember meeting her for the first time when she was 3 months old, holding her close as I rocked back and forth in the chair in her bedroom.

I remember when she was 6 and her dad, my mom’s brother, died. My mom was adamant we not lose touch with our cousins following his death; I am grateful to her for the love she had for her brother’s kids because that love has continued to grow in my own heart and now in my children’s hearts. Really, it’s an honour to have the opportunity to watch my little sister cross that stage and I know my mom and my uncle will be there in spirit. How could I miss the chance to be close to them, too, once again?

We usually visit my cousins and aunt every couple of years as a family. Each time we’ve gone I’ve had one or two or three children with me. Of course, that’s a very different trip! When babies need to sleep or nap, I need to excuse myself from conversations and chai to put them down. Or stay with them the entire time because they won’t sleep. When we go out, my attention is mostly on the kids. This time will be really different because I can stay up and drink chai without keeping an ear out for someone coming down the stairs. I’ll eat at a restaurant without cutting up someone else’s meal first. (Unless either of my cousins prefer this – I’m actually quite good at it!) My cousins have asked me, “What do you want to do when you’re here?” and I can’t decide! Should we just stay in in our pj’s and eat ridiculous amounts of baked goods? Or should we dress up and paint the town red? Decisions, decisions. I can get used to those kinds of decisions.

But I’m not gonna lie. I know being away from my kids and husband will be hard. To make it a bit easier on them, and on me, I’ve written letters to the two big kids for each day that I’m away. (The hubs can add “Remember to give kids a letter each day” to his to-do list). The letters greet them in the morning as I normally would, and include something to remember for the day (like family birthdays…May is a busy month for birthdays in our extended family so this is kind of insurance that my husband will remember, too). My little girly will get a drawing from me each day (because seriously, I can draw a heart and she’ll squeal in delight before she asks for a pen and scribbles all over it).

letters, to my children, letters to my children, love letters, writing to my kids, leaving on a jet plane, trip, motherhood

To help the hubs, I’m going to cook a few meals ahead of time. Which, actually, is not any more work than I normally do, since I tend to cook a lot in the beginning of the week when the afternoons aren’t so crazy so that we have food to carry us through the nutty days. But I do make it a point to tell him, at least every other day, that I’m preparing meals for them. Is that so I feel less guilty? Haha! Perhaps. But hey, it’s working, because I actually don’t feel guilty at all about this trip!

Have you been away and left kiddies behind? What have you done to make it easier on them and yourself? I’d love to hear in the comments!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative