It's a feeling like restlessness.
When we got to the beach, I didn't know what to do with my hands. My hands! They are always active - caressing, fixing, stirring, fetching, pointing, teaching, holding, playing. They aren't still very often - mending, washing, changing, dressing. Even when I'm attempting to enjoy some contemplation or time in relaxation, they are doing something - writing, praying, gardening. Even when I sleep, they are poised on the cusp of action, waiting to be called back into service, and morning finds them, more often than not, holding a little someone anyway.
Being without her felt like learning to ride a bike - awkward, scary, anxiety producing. I felt so devoid of purpose, like I was constantly forgetting something, and had to keep stopping to think "what is it that I'm supposed to be doing?" Every child that made a noise drew my immediate attention, because all of my senses were putting out feelers, straining, and searching for her: the one they are attuned to, the one that they focus on, the main thing that I marshall all my energy for every day.
And then I was fine. Like someone flipped a switch. It wasn't forgetting, because I was so terrified that it would be like forgetting. It was just - new. I knew she was okay, I knew I wasn't far, I knew he was with her and all was well, all was well. It wasn't not missing her either, or relief, which is good because that frightened me too. I just enjoyed where I was and let her enjoy being daddy's girl.
At night it was harder; I prayed through a great deal of missing her, missing him, missing being the one to take care and do for my little nest. In the morning, too, I realized it was the first time ever in her life I had not seen her wake up face. It stung and gnawed at me. But I relaxed, forced myself to relax, to sit and enjoy morning silence (my favorite thing).
Then I was home. Home and she shouted "Mama! Look it's my mommy!" when I pulled in the drive. "Where have you been?" she wondered, and when I held out my arms she stared at my fingernails. "oh where did you get this?" She was fascinated with the entire idea: Mama went away and came back in a red bathing suit with red fingernails. She didn't cling, or cry - she ran back to the neighbor girl and kept playing, invited me to play, didn't mind when I didn't, went on with her childhood work.
It was a full 24 hours away and I came back to a girl who is big.