Mommy Guilt

Tomorrow night I am flying out of town (on an airplane!) without my kids or husband. And no, it’s not an elaborate escape fantasy, I am really and truly headed to Texas to see my little sister. As she has a toddler just weeks younger than A it’s not like I’m going to be totally child free, but at least it won’t be me who has to get out of bed at 2am, 3am, and 5am if Baby C decides to wake up demanding water, a hug, or a new lovey. Not that she would, Baby C is apparently a sleeper and goes 8 to 8 without a peep, but we’re not really going to think about that over here.

Although I act as if this is going to be great! fabulous! so wonderful!, in reality I am scared to death. I can count the number of times I have been away from my kids overnight on one hand, including my hospital stays when pregnant with A. And I don’t even need to use the whole hand. In fact, I think I can count the number of times I have been away from my kids for longer than two and a half hours on two hands with fingers left over. I don’t generally tend to stray far from home without someone (or two) in tow.

So much (OK, almost all) of my life is wrapped up in the minutiae of their day to day activities that it is almost impossible to tell where they end and I begin. The thought of being on a plane for over five hours when I can’t even been reached by phone is too awful to even contemplate. What if something happens? It will be five hours before I know. What if C falls out of bed and needs to hear my voice to calm down? What if A has an allergic reaction or another bout with croup? I think it will take all of my power not to pick up that airphone and call to check in (There ARE still airphones on planes, right?) while I am enroute.

Beyond the fear of disaster, however, there is a fair amount of Mommy guilt tied up in my leaving. My job description is “mommy.” And mommies aren’t supposed to go do things for themselves. Which I know intellectually is a silly, unhealthy attitude, but it is the one I am stuck with for better or worse. My mom was a single parent for most of my childhood,and she taught at my elementary and junior high schools, so my experience with mommy separation is limited. Nana swears up and down that she left me many a time with a babysitter, and even spent days at a time with her ailing parents without me, but I don’t remember any of that. I just remember her constant presence and the comfort that it brought when things went wrong.

I know that this separation will be good for all of us, I mean I’ll get a chance to catch up on sleep and there is nothing but good things to be said about that. C and A will get to bond with Daddy without Mommy intervention. M will get a chance to discover the joys of waking up multiple times a night AND having to get out of bed. And, just perhaps, he will have better luck than I convincing A that 5am is not an hour at which she should be out of bed for the day.

But the fact remains that while intellectually I am thrilled to be venturing out on my own with no need for a diaper bag, multiple changes of clothes and kid-approved snack foods, emotionally I’m not quite there yet. It’s not that I don’t trust M because I do implicitly. In fact I am fairly certain that he is a better parent than I. It’s just that my children have become such a part of my daily (and nightly) existence that I can’t fathom what I will do without them, or how they will survive without me. A part of me is also scared that they will do just fine without me, proving that my role in their lives is not as important as I make it out to be. And if they don’t need me as much as I need them, I’m not sure where that leaves me except one step closer to out of the best job I’ve ever had.

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