I received a meaningful email today from a dear friend I haven't heard from in several years. In it, he commented that he had been out of town for 14 of 20 weeks to negotiate a high-risk union contract.
For those of us... you.... who travel a great deal, what comfort can be found in the tiny moments, yes? In the warm embrace upon returning; in the time with children that follows.
Sometimes, when I've been away for several days on end and I enter the laundry room just this side of the garage, I dump my laundry on the floor and have to turn my head. The waft of soiled clothes and spilled toiletries can be too much.
But immediately upon dropping that suitcase, I run to my wife and daughter and give them a tight embrace. Laundry and boarding passes and travel receipts can wait -- they'll be there tomorrow morning. But "Hello" comes just that once, so you better get it right.
It took me YEARS to appreciate the importance of a warm return. I encourage you, upon your next return home, to let the tasks fall by the wayside: save the laundry and changing and brushing your teeth for later. For now, give those you love a GREAT BIG HUG, tell them how much you missed them, ask them about their days, and flop down on the couch or bed to listen with big ears, wide eyes, and high energy.
Someday, when the pitter patter of little feet has faded, you'll thank me. Stinky clothes, cramped toiletries, and crumpled notes and paperwork and receipts can wait. But marriages and parenting and L-I-V-I-N-G cannot. Nor can the priceless, "Thank you for caring for everyone and everything in my absence. I missed you."
Welcome home. And nighty night.