I was nervous. I didn’t know what reaction I’d get on the other end of the call. Would I be met with joy? Apathy? Had I been forgotten? It had been a while since we last spoke and I felt anxious. As the time of the call drew closer, I had butterflies.
No, I’m not describing the emotions of talking to a guy I was really into… I’m talking about the excitement and anxiety I felt when my husband and I Skyped with our 18-month-old daughter while we were on vacation in Europe and she was back in California with my parents.
Before we left on our 12-day journey, we told my parents that we wanted to try to Skype a few times with our daughter. We went into it with the understanding that if seeing us on the screen made her burst into tears, then we would say goodbye and not see her again until we could do so in person with real life hugs and kisses.
Once we were overseas and had a better understanding of our itinerary, we scheduled our first Skype call. I was nervous. Really nervous. Not like ruin-the-vacation nervous, but nervous enough to keep asking my husband ridiculous questions like, “Do you think she’ll remember us?” (It had been about five days), or, “What if she cries? I don’t want to upset her. That’s not why we’re doing this. I don’t ever want her to be upset. And if she cries I’m gonna cry. And then all I’ll be thinking about is her crying! Will she cry?” To which my husband responded that we don’t have to do the Skype call.
This was not an option.
Then I’d ask things like, “And…and…what if she’s too busy doing fun grandma and grandpa stuff to even notice we’re on the screen waving and smiling and repeatedly saying, ‘hi?!?’” My self-esteem is low as it is, I couldn’t handle that kind of rejection from my daughter prior to her pre-teen years.
My wonderfully supportive husband, who knew what kind of crazy-pants he married, would give me a hug and tell me that our daughter loves us no matter how she reacts on this call.
It was reassuring, but I was still nervous.
The day of the call, we were on a day trip tour to Bratislava, Slovakia. When the group broke for lunch, we sat with these two lovely Welsh women. Within about 10 seconds of chatting, I was showing off pics of the munchkin I so missed. They asked if we would be talking while I was away and I told them of our plan to Skype. One of the women said she was a child psychologist and that Skyping with our daughter was a wonderful thing. “It reminds her that you are still there, love her, and are thinking about her.”
Just hearing this from a professional eased my mind. She could have actually been a masseuse from Mars for all I knew, but her words were just the boost I needed to semi/pseudo/almost believe that I was doing the right thing.
As we returned to the hotel and texted my parents to confirm we were ready to chat (11 p.m. for us, 2 p.m. in LA), the butterflies returned. I was trying to fix my hair. Did I look okay? Wait… our daughter’s used to seeing me as a walking napkin, what am I doing? And before I could inexplicably curl my eyelashes, it was time.
I’m pretty sure I held my breath as we made the connection. Well, we made the connection, then lost the connection. Then we heard every third word, then lost the picture… yeah, I held my breath a while.
But once all technical glitches were unglitched, there she was. There was that little face I had waited to see. And after a moment, we came into focus on her end and she smiled. She smiled the smile that always lights up the room. She smiled the smile that I held my breath for. She smiled the smile that made it clear she loved us, missed us, and was very happy to see us. Without even knowing I set them free, my butterflies flew away.
After playing peek-a-boo, asking about her day, chatting with my parents, and a few moments of looking at everyone’s foreheads, it was time to say goodnight. Our daughter’s smile turned to a disappointed grimace when she realized we weren’t going to leap out of the iPad screen to spend the rest of the day together. We turned the Skype off before she started crying (well, my husband did; I could have pulled the “you hang up…no YOU hang up” thing for hours).
We were later told by my parents that while she was upset after we hung up, it only lasted for a few minutes until she went back to being a happy camper at Grandma & Grandpa’s Happy Fun Time Camp.
We had one more Skype session while we were away and it went similarly. My nerves crept up the closer we got to call time, it took a while to connect, and she was very happy to see us.
While I imagined a moment of realizing that my daughter was “just not that into me,” it was comforting to find I still have a while until the teen years when that will inevitably be the case.
Trust me, I’m prepping now.