I've tried to read that sympathetically, i.e., maybe they meant, "You must be such a good mother than even a few hours away from you would make any child miss you." That would be okay. And it's possible that they just horribly misspoke, since their name was in Tamil, so English may not be their first language. But I'm guessing it was just meant as a criticism. Maybe I'm over-sensitive, but I read that line as implying: How dare I leave town? What a selfish mother!
And that honestly just bewilders me. I don't understand that viewpoint. I know there are people out there who think small children should be attached to their mother's hip at all times, but I don't get it. Mostly, when I saw that comment this morning, I felt sad for those folks. That they think a woman can't step away from her child for a few days without the child falling apart. If that were really true for Kavya, if she spent all the time I was away weeping and wailing, to me, that would be the sign of bad parenting. That I hadn't helped her develop the strength and resilience and self-reliance that she ought to have.
It's funny, I was at dinner last night with Debbie, and at some point she quoted Laurie Toby Edison saying, "I never put my children first except when they need me to put them first." And that seems exactly right to me. Right now, my kids don't need me there -- they have Kevin, their father who is just as capable of making them breakfast and kissing their boo-boos and helping them get dressed -- in fact, he's more patient with all of that than I am. Leaving me free to do my work, writing and critiquing and presenting, to see my friends, and to have fun for a few days. And that's just fine.
The kids will be all right. And so will I.