The 10 days I had with my daughters was an awesome experience.  It was as if they never left with the exception that they forgot about a lot of the places they have been before.  Unfortunately, my youngest was also sick the first few days so I had to attend to her most of the time trying to get her better so we could venture out in the cold weather.

I already had Christmas shopped before they got there, so it was hard denying them gifts every time we went to Target and other stores.  I had to reassure them that if they were good, Santa would bring them the presents they’ve requested.  My wife was totally against letting our children to believe there was a Santa.  Although I agreed with her, I didn’t want to spoil the magic and surprise that came with Christmas every year.  As a child, I was so excited to wake up every Christmas morning to see if Santa left presents, ate the cookies, and left a note.  Since my girls where still relatively young, I knew I could capitalize this Christmas and build them up for his visit in the absence of my wife.  On Christmas Eve, we left cookies and a glass of milk, wrote letters, and watched “Frozen” was the billionth time before we all headed to bed.  Besides…dad had some Christmas organizing to do.  Of course my youngest refused to go to bed.  No matter how hard I tried to convince her that Santa would not come as long as she stayed awake, she was not having it.  Eventually she fell asleep after I rubbed her head and back for over an hour.  I managed to get all the presents under the tree, fill their stockings, and eat a few of the cookies without them waking up anymore for the night.  By morning, the girls were awake long before me, but stayed in bed and played with their toys.  I know when I was a kid; I always had to wake my parents up in the morning.  I was inpatient and there was no way I was waiting on them to get up on their own.  I finally rolled out of bed and grabbed the girls to go downstairs.  As a parent, watching your kids eyes light up with excitement is an awesome feeling.  Just watching them run around the house looking at everything that Santa brought was making me excited.  I think they were more excited that the cookies and milk were eaten than anything else.  I guess that was the “proof” they needed that Santa actually came.

After Christmas was over, we spent the next few days visiting family, bowling, and going to the zoo.  As everyday passed, I grew more and more sad knowing that my time with them was quickly becoming very limited.

When the day came to take them home, I knew it was going to be an emotional roller coaster.  But through all the travel logistical problems we encountered, the journey back to their mother was uneventful….that’s until we got back to Arizona.

Before we left that day, I asked her to return the favor as I did for her and meet me at the gate so I wouldn’t have to leave the terminal and go back through security.  She said she would and she even said she would get my return back boarding passes.  Awesome!  Great!  As our plane landed, I started messaging her on her location and if she was in place.  I got no response.  Shit.  You got to be kidding me.  Even though I had a delay for an hour; I didn’t want to take the chance of missing my flight because she was late due to piss poor planning.  As we walked up the jet bridge, I still haven’t received a response.  Once we got out into the terminal, she finally responded that she was just pulling up and was not going to be able to meet me at the gate.  Seriously?  I go out of my way to ensure her travel plans are not f’d up but yet she could care less what happens to me.  So I had to leave the terminal down the baggage claim area and yet she still was nowhere to be found.  I call her and ask where she is and she tells me she’s standing at the reception center.  What reception center?  There is only one at the airport and I’m standing at it.  Not only did she not know where to meet me, she didn’t even know what airline we were flying in on even though I gave her our itinerary 2 weeks ago that I sent to multiple email accounts.  Way to go mom!!!  After the quick handoff, I went back through security to catch my return flight.  Not more than 5 minutes after dropping them off, the text messages started flowing in about the girls and I’s last 2 weeks together.  I had a friend drop off some medicine for me during the first couple days to give to my youngest and therefore my girls where telling their mom about it.  Of course she tried to turn the table on me accusing me of seeing someone else and bringing them around the girls.  I had to reassure her that wasn’t the case and remind her that I wasn’t the one already seeing someone who happens to be sitting in the van I own in the parking lot with her other children waiting on them.

I should note here that not once did I ask the girls about anything that was going on back in Arizona with their mom and new boyfriend.  They did bring it up a few times but I quickly squashed it to not make me mad.  I almost made it point to left my wife know about all the information I had about them so that she couldn’t accuse me of trying to gain information from them like she was doing once I handed them over.  Lesson learned for the future I suppose.

Now that the girls where back home and I was finally back home myself after 8 hours of traveling, the loneliness started to settle back in once again.  The empty beds and the quiet house were becoming all too familiar.

I guess this was something that I was going to have to get use to over the next few years.