I’m on my way out of town and already looking forward to getting back home to my kids

OPINION: It’s amazing how getting older changes—or can change—how you view traveling out of town, even for events you really want to attend.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

As I write this piece I’m in the middle of getting ready to head out of town to Atlanta (and then to Los Angeles) for a work trip. Now, this trip to ATL happens to coincide with Homecoming for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges (SpelHouse) so I couldn’t be happier to make this particular work trip. 

But here’s the thing — and it’s a thing I’ve noticed more and more the older I and my kids get — I’m already looking forward to getting back home to my kids (and wife, of course). There was a time in my life when I couldn’t wait to take a plane, train, or automobile out of somewhere…to anywhere, really. A week before it was time for me to leave, I’d be useless at work; time would tick by so slowly, I’d almost lose my mind until it was time to head to the airport to get on a plane to meet the homies out of town. I’d pack days in advance and hit the mall looking to buy entirely new outfits and shoes for said trip. I was younger and singler in those days, and life reflected it. I’d be out all night long, even on work nights, eating recklessly and not thinking twice about when I was returning home.

Now, though? Whew, chile. I’m about to head to Atlanta, Ga. for my literal favorite event ever—SpelHouse Homecoming—and I’m currently trying to decide if I want to get my boys out of school early JUST so I can say goodbye to them (again) before heading to the airport. I’m considering reducing their educational instruction time to achieve this purpose. I will FaceTime my daughter relentlessly—she will not answer with the same relentlessness—just to see how she’s doing as if my being away impacts the positivity in her life. My youngest? That’s my road-dawg right now so what am I supposed to do when I need to go somewhere and he’s all the way in Washington, D.C.? It’s such an interesting phase of life to be in. 

Be clear: it’s not like being at home means that we’d be doing all of the things. Likely, my kids would be upstairs in our playroom playing video games or throwing balls around my fine breakables. But being present matters a lot. Even though I’ll be back in a few days —I get back Sunday — I’ll spend as much time thinking about the family as I will focus on the tasks at hand. Okay, maybe not AS MUCH. I’m sure I’ll be at a bar or somebody’s home not entirely concerned about where my kids are (I know where they’ll be, natch), but they will be like the third or fourth thought behind brown liquor and whether or not I’m too old to be wherever I am. I probably won’t be, by the way. 

What’s interesting about all of this is that I’m completely fine with this part of life. I don’t really miss being out that much. I’d much rather hang with the homies in a chill environment than head out somewhere to go partake of high (or low) priced liquors. I don’t know exactly when this happened but it feels like a natural progression of life. As a point of note, I don’t know if my kids mind that I’m gone. Two of my boys — the ones who talk — definitely told me they don’t want me to go but they also dapped me up and said, “Bye, Daddy” with conviction as if they were perfectly fine with today’s plans. My daughter was a little TOO understanding that I was leaving. She was like, “Cool, have fun, Daddy!” Meanwhile, I’m wondering if my kids really miss me at all. 

I suppose it’s better this way. There are no sad goodbyes or dramatic exits. Well, save for mine; I really did try to extend the goodbye this morning at drop-off. My kids didn’t even turn around to wave goodbye. I’m not saying that I was in my feelings like Drake or anything, but I definitely looked several times to see if they, maybe, would come running back downstairs to wave or something. No such luck. 

Perhaps this is just my cross to bear. I suppose it’s normal—until our kids get older I think all parents are more concerned about their kids than the other way around. That’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll see them Sunday. 

To Sunday.

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download here.

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