To say I miss my kids when I go away is an understatement. In fact, I have lost sleep over leaving them, had severe anxiety, and almost been physically sick over it. I have been told to cut the cord, to relax, that it is not normal to feel this way just because I am leaving for a weekend, and that I have control issues. Maybe all these things are true. I don’t try to dissect all the reasons I feel the way I do when I leave my family. I just know that I feel them. I also know this: I do it anyway.
My oldest was 10 months old the first time I left him for the weekend. I was a bit dramatic — I asked my husband to take him and leave the house first so I didn’t feel like I was the one leaving. Then I sat in my car and almost threw up. But in the end, my weekend was glorious and I needed it.
We shopped until we were delirious, then ate McDonald’s french fries while getting pedicures. We ate dinner while listening to live music and sipped on wine, and then took our asses over to the local ice cream shop and got a double scoop. We ate it in her car and laughed until we cried about all the hell we used to raise in college. We did it again the next year and the next.
When my third baby was 6 months old, we were on another weekend-long extravaganza and something happened that made leaving my family a little bit easier. We were eating at a crowded outside restaurant; it was one of those places where you sit with people you don’t know on long tables and eat burgers and hot dogs, then immediately regret it. Anyway, we were sharing a table with two women in their late 60s. They were also best friends enjoying a weekend together. We starting chatting, and I learned they had been doing this for about 20 years since their kids had been grown and gone. It was “too hard for them to leave for a weekend of fun in those days,” they told us.
Then they asked me if I had any kids. I responded by telling them I had three, ages 3, 2, and 6 months. I told them they were home with my husband. One of the women almost fell off the bench. They could not believe that he was taking care of them by himself.
In that moment, I was so glad I didn’t just shove these special times with my friend under the rug and stay at home because I missed my kids or thought my husband couldn’t handle it. There have been times I told myself I really didn’t need it, but I keep coming back to these very important reasons:
I deserve it.
Yes, I miss my kids tremendously, but I miss my friend too. And while I can’t get those weekends back with my kids, I can’t get them back with her either. We deserve this time together. I need to have this time.
It is worth it.
When we plan to be away from home for pleasure, it is a ton of work to get everything pulled together because we wear a lot of hats — which is all the more reason to go. We worry and we come home to a mess, but we come home refreshed.
It is good for the family unit.
We are appreciated a little more when we walk through the door. We are always here and they depended on us, but while we need a break, our families need a break too. They need to bond with their other parent (or grandparent or whoever is taking care of them). It is good for them to see their mother has a life outside of family and work, and it really is okay.
My husband encourages it.
He sees a difference in me when I have been gone for a bit and when I have not left the house or our little school of fish for 138 days. He prefers the woman who has gone out and aired out her shorts. That woman is more in the mood for after hours fun.
I don’t want to be the lady who fell off the bench.
I can’t be the mom who is there every second. I want my family to get along without me. I don’t want to feel like I can never leave the house because they are so dependent on me.
I still get the anxiety when I leave; I’m not sure it ever goes away. I still lose a little sleep, although these days it’s more because I am excited to enjoy some mom porn like shopping without the kids, or eating whatever I want without having to share.
It’s nice to have a vacation from multiple people tugging at my shirt tails, or asking me where their prized lovey is while it is 2 inches from their face. But damn, when I walk in that door and get to squeeze them, smell their heads, and tell them how happy I am to see them, I mean it with my whole heart — because for a few days I got to see what it would be like without them, and as serene as it is, I am always ready to dive into the chaos again.