The Aspen Princess: I get it — He doesn’t need me as much as I think he does

Allison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

“I promise I won’t cry when you leave, Mommy,” Levi said in one of those moments that, as a mother, squeezes your heart so tight you can’t breathe for a second or two.

The time had come for the milestone many mothers dread and also covet: the first time you leave your child for more than a few hours.

When I got married in 2011, I had no children and could not understand why anyone would want to take their kids to my wedding. After all, this was an excuse for them to leave their little rugrats at home and actually have fun for once.

“But our daughter is an extension of us,” said one friend whose daughter was about 1 year old at the time. “We don’t want to be without her.”

She wasn’t the only one. I’d convinced my girlfriends from California not only to come without their children, but without their husbands. Someone told me that when you have a wedding in Aspen, everyone comes. Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. To this day, I regret those invitations I didn’t extend to people I love, not only to the doting husbands of my wonderful surfer girls, but to other friends with whom my relationships suffered since then. (Except for my friend Shad from college. He was a real player back in the day and somehow managed to sleep with several of my closest friends. We all agreed it would be a little awkward for everyone).

It was one of the many things I’d apologize for after I’d finally had a child of my own. Shad in particular was super offended that I hadn’t invited him to my wedding.

But now that I have a child of my own, I get it. It’s true my girlfriends were a little bit traumatized, what, having left their kids for the very first time to attend my wedding, though I do think they probably shouldn’t have waited for so long.

Newsflash: Your kid doesn’t need you as much as you think. In fact, they can indeed live without you. It is you who may not be able to live without them.

Naturally, I worried that when I left him for the first time to travel to Minneapolis, Levi might act out at school, or get a little weepy, or crumple into hysterics when he realized he wanted me and for the first time in his life, I wasn’t there.

He didn’t.

Granted, he’s in excellent care. Ryan’s dad is one of these men from the old school generation who were taught not to show their emotions, who won’t ever admit when they’re in pain, and they run their households like a team coach. But underneath that crusty exterior is a soft, warm center, like a chocolate croissant after it’s heated. Whatever guard he tried to put up with his own children (not that he was fooling anyone) he dropped with reckless abandon for his grandkids.

When his granddaughter was a baby, he drove 45 minutes each way to take care of her five days a week. As she grew older, he’d play with her in her little toy kitchen; or they’d camp in a tent in the middle of the living room; or he’d create a game out of a box, a ball, or whatever was available. He always says that kids prefer the box the toy came in.

For Levi’s second birthday, Ron sat with me at the dining room table and helped me make a train out of cardboard and baking tins, coloring in the tracks with a black Sharpie pen. Keep in mind this is a far cry from my own father, who, despite being the sweetest, and funniest person on the planet, is completely useless when it comes to domestic matters. The only thing he knows how to cook is an egg in the microwave. He throws it into a mug and scrambles it with a little shredded cheese and then eats it right out of the cup with a fork. It’s a pretty pathetic sight, if I’m being honest.

Ron, on the other hand, is also pretty decent in the kitchen. This is another Margo trait that I’m happy to have married into — the men in this family love to cook while the women sit leisurely around the table and gab. Don’t get me wrong, I do the cooking in our house. But on the rare occasion I can’t manage it, Ryan can step up to the plate like nobody’s business. He recently made a taco spread that was so delicious it almost felt like he’d been holding out on me.

I should not be surprised, then, when there are no phone calls or texts rolling in from the homestead. I was the one who finally called them when I couldn’t take it anymore, even though I still worried Levi might get upset when he heard my voice and realized it had been more than “two sleeps” since he saw me last.


Instead, the little voice I heard on the other end of the phone sounded surprisingly, reassuringly at ease. He reported that he missed me and loved me, but clearly, he was doing just fine. Hearing him fussing in the background before bath time, I also realized how nice it was to have a little break from the day-to-day demands of caring for a young child.

I had a full day in Minneapolis before we set off on our road trip to do what I wanted. I had a mani-pedi. I shopped. I went for a run at seven o’clock at night and then enjoyed a late dinner where I could actually have a conversation. I went out to a couple of nice restaurants and drank fancy cocktails and expensive food. I lingered.

It was short and sweet, and it was the first time I got to experience it for myself: the kid is all right.

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