It’s been a while since I’ve felt the crippling anxiety I’ve been feeling the past few days but then again, it’s been a while since I’ve left my kids.
I’ve actually never left Jack in the almost 15 months he’s been brightening up our lives and it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve left Ella with anybody. The longest I’ve ever been away from her was the two day trip I took to Utah for my brother’s wedding.
The trip I’m taking this week? It’s five days.
Insert about a million crying face emojis.
When Matthew first left for his internship, the promise was that I would come see him soon. My mom had offered to keep the kids so that I could have an easy time traveling and Matthew and I could really spend time together. Staring ten weeks of single motherhood in the face, it sounded like such a great idea. Matthew had been gone a few weeks when we finally picked the dates and settled everything. But slowly my excitement has been morphing into something else.
Of course, I need the break. I’ve been taking care of the kids by myself for over a month now. Of course, I need to see Matthew. It’s been over a month since he left for California. Of course, I want and don’t want to go.
It’s hard to describe exactly what I’m feeling. It’s not guilt exactly; I know I’ve earned some rest. It’s not worry exactly; I’m leaving them with my perfect parents who do everything perfectly. It’s not even about missing them exactly; today Ella yelled at me because I made her sit in our air conditioned car when she wanted to sit on the hot concrete steps outside her ballet class.
But last night I was writing down everything the kids need and everything I do for them every single day, and it completely overwhelmed me. Things I do everyday without thinking but once I thought about them, I could barely even finish it.
I know I’m a little obsessive about my kids, I know that. I am that way with pretty much everything (I’ve chosen to call it curated). My parenting philosophy hinges on consistency and I hate disrupting them even in the tiniest ways. When I’ve left Ella before, she was too young to really get that I was saying goodbye. I thought it would be easier once she could understand. But the other night when I told her I was leaving, she said, “But Mama, you’re always with me.”
It hasn’t stopped her from having tantrums or fighting me about taking baths but knowing I’m turning her “always” into “less than always” isn’t sitting well with me.
Now, normally when I write posts like this, I come to some grand conclusion that helps me put it into perspective. Not this time. I’m really struggling with how to leave them and make the leaving worth it. How to turn the anxiety back into excitement. So instead of a grand conclusion, I have a question.
How do I do it?