The Leaving is the Hardest Part

What kind of mother leaves her child the day that the child had her tooth pulled?

This kind of mother. I did.

In my defense, though, the tooth didn’t actually GET pulled.

Well, it did get PULLED. It just didn’t come OUT.

Big Sis wasn’t having it. Not that I blame her. It appeared that the anesthesia wasn’t working.

The dentist explained that the medication is acidic, and the material inside her infected gum is basic, so it’s possible that they canceled each other out in spots.

After several valiant tries, both on the part of Big Sis and the dentist, the tooth remained just a bit less firmly in its socket. She was sent home to wiggle it fervently, take her antibiotic, and to report back next week, at which point we would probably be referred to a pediatric dentist, who would knock Big Sis out to remove the tooth.

At which point Big Sis replied tearfully, “Yes, please.” Poor kid. She does not have a high pain threshold.

We piled into the car and I dropped Big Sis off at the vacation bible school she’d been attending all week with her best friend. We parted ways in the cavernous cafeteria of the nondenominational minimegachurch; she was escorted off by a chipper blonde teenage volunteer while I impressed upon the camp nurse the importance of her four o’clock dosage of Motrin.

I missed her already. A ball of sadness settled into my stomach and stayed.

I headed for home to finish packing.  A few hours later, after squeezie-huggie goodbyes with Mr. Hoagie and Little Sis, I’d arrived at the airport and boarded the plane. We taxied away from the gate only to be told we were on a 57-minute delay due to thunderstorms in Chicago. I texted family and friends (and Twitter) to let everyone know, and stuck my nose back into Real Simple magazine.

If only it WERE that Simple.

A moment later, my cell phone rang.

Sobbing. “Mommy, why did you have to GO?”

Guess Big Sis is home from vacation bible school. I can almost see her shoulders heaving through the phone, huge crocodile tears cascading down each cheek.

“Can you come BACK?” Soul-wrenching wails. My heart broke and leaked all over my shoes.

I explained that I was literally trapped on the plane and wouldn’t be released until we landed in Chicago.

“Okay, but then can you fly right back? TONIGHT?”

I did not give her the answer she had hoped to hear. Her sobbing started anew. I tried to croon sweet soothing mommy words into her ear, but it’s hard to do on a packed flight of very bored passengers listening in.

After a minute longer, Mr. Hoagie stepped in and took the phone from her. Each moment spent talking to me was making her meltdown worse.

Funny. Before I had answered that call, I missed my family deeply.

Afterward? Not quite so much.


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to
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One Response to The Leaving is the Hardest Part

  1. Pingback: Recap: BlogHer ‘09 « Sandwiched

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