I Cry Inside

MY DAUGHTER cries and begs me not to leave on my business trip. I hold her and tell her I will return soon.

My grandfather died in a plane crash between New York and California. My mother, who was eleven, had begged him not to leave. He lied and told her he would cancel the trip. I never lie to my daughter.

I always thought my grandfather died on a business trip. Two years ago I finally learned he was actually flying to California to divorce my grandmother. My mother never told me.

My grandmother never told her children their father was dead. They figured it out gradually.

When my mother was a young adult, her fiancée died in a plane crash.

My mother was never able to be happy, to feel safe, to trust the world.

One of my jobs is to help my daughter learn to be happy, to feel safe, to trust the world.

It is hard for any parent. Harder when you are divorced. My daughter is sensitive, creative, and has a learning disability. She feels different from other kids. Family is everything to her.

My daughter is everything to me. To support her, I do several jobs. Jobs I love, working with people I love and trust. One of my jobs requires me to travel frequently, staying away for up to a week at a time.

My father worked twelve hours a day to support his family. We grew up in his absence and long shadow.

I am grateful for my daughter’s life and my ability to spend so much time with her. She knows her parents love her and will always be there for her.

But when I leave, she cries, and I cry inside.

23 thoughts on “I Cry Inside

  1. More often than not children don’t understand what parents go through in order to support and provide for them until they’re a little older.

    Today, not a day goes past where I’m not reminded of how much my parents continuously do to push me in the direction to create my career in web and design and chase what I want even if in the beginning it wasn’t what they had in mind.

    It’s with my Dad’s love for technology and my Mum’s ambitious personality I inherited from them, that I’m able to do what I do. Knowing they’re behind me 100% wherever I am in the world, means everything.

    I know your daughter will understand one day. Never take the time you have together for granted.

  2. What an interesting family history and vignette of the struggles of a single, hard-working parent. Thanks for sharing. It’s moving.

  3. Your writing is great fun when on tech, or web– but (as a single parent) I totally dig it when you make these essential, astute parental observations.
    So, human and real. Thanks!

  4. Oddly enough I read this in a hotel room, away from my family on another speaking engagement. I hate leaving the family behind but today it’s worse than normal as I missed my train home.

    I woke up at 2:30am this morning. Walked 30 min in the rain to Stamford train station. Waited 30 min on track 4 for Amtrak Train 66 to arrive. When it did I was apparently on the wrong side of track 4. There were no signs and no indication of a right and wrong side of track 4. Yet the doors didn’t open and after banging on the doors and yelling I tried to make it to the other side but it was too late.

    Worst part about this is how terrible I feel about letting My wife down. I promised her French Toast in bed on Mothers Day and I promised my son I’d be home before he wakes.

    I’ve spoken at dozens of conferences all over the country and this is the first time I will not be home when I said I’d be home.

  5. Thanks for sharing Jeffrey. I work from home as an independent designer for my kids, something generations before me rarely had an opportunity to do. I work VERY hard, sometimes day and night in fact, but not before getting them off to school, seeing them return from school, and I never miss little league practice, scouts, a hockey game, science fair-you name it, I’m there. They travel through time way too fast, I’m going to witness every moment. There will be time later for me.

  6. I don’t have any children yet but I am so thankful that you sacrificed to travel and somehow contributed a lot to the community.

  7. Very recognizable and a welcome human interlude to the tech-walk around the web I’m having. Makes me realize that I deal with people. Even on the WWW

  8. I’ve been traveling a ton recently to speak at WordCamps and feel this twinge every time I leave my girlfriend. I can’t imagine how it will feel when I have to leave my kids. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Yeah, heavy stuff. Kids put things in such a different perspective. Your story reminds me of this old Doc Watson song (http://rd.io/x/QWtF1DddfXoJ/). It is clear this isn’t something new to parents. Tough to deal with, even when going to work seems relatively safe.

  10. I have a son, he always throws a fit when I leave on my business trips. Good thing we have skype nowadays and I can talk to him when I’m away. Good post.

  11. very touching, you are so great mother. i totally understand what your think of. i will offer the best to my kids too. thank you for sharing.

  12. Thank you for putting into words something my family and I go through too. My business pulls me way from home frequently for up to a week at a time as well. I also grew up with a father and grandfathers that worked long hours, or traveled, or both. My daughter begs and cries at times when I leave, but is always excited when I come home as I am then home for weeks too, working from home. I will say modern technology is helping with that as she is happier when she can video chat me on the road, and iMessage me randomly with pictures of things she is doing. But it’s still so hard.

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