By the time I got on the return flight from LA, I had relaxed. I allowed myself to stop worrying about how Ethan would be without me and I slept for most the flight, skipping the stinky, plastic air plane food and waking just in time for coffee being served. I slapped on a generous layer of moisturiser to my odd, seatbelt-shaped sunburn (sunburnt from being turned stupidly happy at the opportunity for uninterrupted sunshine on the drive back to LA in the drop-top) and legged it back home as fast as I could.
By the time I got in, Ethan had been bed-time-routine-ed and was sleeping soundly for about 30 minutes. I crept up the stairs and cracked the door just a little to have a peek at him. It was good to see him snoozing away, but I wasn't really happy until he woke at about midnight. He was hardly awake, just squeaking, and probably would have continued sleeping had I left him alone.
But I jumped up and picked him out of his crib. In the dark, I could see the whites of his eyes as he looked up at me with surprise. I wondered if he would cry. Or if he would remember me at all. After what seemed like a long stare-down, he smiled and grabbed for my face, taking hold of my nose with one hand my bottom lip with another. I breathed a sigh of relief. He remembers and he missed me. That felt good.
The baby milestone chart I've been consulting says to expect separation anxiety around 6 months. They didn't mention that the anxiety would be mine. It's been great being at home with him, there for him all the time. But it has lead me to believe a little that he needs me. He does, but he is also a big, tough guy now. Those little irrational voices telling me that he would melt down without me were just that - irrational.
I'm really proud of him for being such an adaptable and brave little man once again. He must have been confused when Nana fed him breakfast or dad gave him his bath. And he did let them know he wasn't totally okay with these changes being brought in without his consent. He even has had a slightly mama-clingy day when it just seemed easier to carry him about in the sling. But he did eat, he did sleep and I've come home to a bigger and more grown up Ethan, all the wiser and better for having the experience. As am I.