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By Tuesday morning this week, I was getting pretty keyed up about all the changes and separation coming my way. I was stressed about my conference, my budget, my annual presentation to my publisher, a possible extra presentation to an outside company and the beginning of the school year all coming in a six-week window.

It’s still going to be a heck of a late summer, but I’m feeling infinitely better about it-in part because some of the work has been ticked off and in part because my first and longest trip went off without a hitch for both of us. Simon had great days with his grandparents and Molly, doing fun things like going to a petting zoo, staking out a spot on Bardstown Road to watch all the buses go by, learning to eat corn on the cob, and meeting new friends at the park.

So far as Matt could tell, he didn’t really notice I was gone until they were at the airport to pick me up. Then, when a crowd of recently arrived passengers entered the public lounge where Matt, Simon, and my mom were standing, he began looking for me and calling out “mommy”. Soon enough I was there, and he greeted me by sighing rather dreamily and doing a funny little head tilt into the crook of my neck when I picked him up. I’m thrilled he did so well with my absence, and relieved he was so happy to have me back. Or perhaps I’m relieved he did so well with my absence, and thrilled he was so happy to have me back. Either way, as Martha would say, it’s a good thing.

For my part, while I’m not a fan of Vegas casinos, I had a very good conference. My first day was a bit low key, but I had a huge number of appointments on the second day (10), greatly enjoyed seeing old authors, reviewers, and friends, and had some great meals. I thought about Simon when I was alone in my hotel room, which was rare, or when I saw a baby go by in stroller, which was alarmingly frequent, but otherwise focused on the task and opportunity at hand. It’s lovely that Simon did so well in my absence, as now I can look forward to future opportunities without guilt or apprehension.

Preschool readiness anxiety has been similarly alleviated. I still think Simon’s first week or so might be rough, but I think he’s fundamentally ready for the social interaction. Two months ago, when we’d take Simon to park, he’d cling to me or Matt and remain wary of other children, especially if they were older. Last night he went straight up to a group of kids on a play structure and joined in the fun. It helped that one of the older boys was extremely sweet, but two months ago Simon never would have stuck around long enough to find out.

The icing on the cake is that Simon got a postcard yesterday from his Itsy Bitsy teachers at KIP (Keneseth Israel Preschool) welcoming him to school and telling him that they have lots of fun things planned for the year. It’s hard to be stressed about anything called “Itsy Bitsy”, especially when they send welcome letters.

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