To the mother in my ear:
Way back when, in the throes of indecision about living and working abroad versus returning home, we booked a trip. At the time our thought process had us squarely in the “go home” camp and we reasoned we should really squeeze in one more international trip before returning home. After all, traveling to far-flung lands would surely be cut from the budget once we were back living the dream of weekend trips to Target.
And so we did.
We booked a 9-day trip to Italy without our children.
Way back when, that seemed okay.
We have a diligent, caring, responsible nanny that has been with our children every day we’ve been in India. She’s cared for Stella since she was 13 months old. Heck, she hangs her underwear in our bathrooms. We are that familiar. The kids are registered for school intersessions and will essentially be in cricket-swimming-tumbling-computer programming-forensics-soccer camp every day next week. We have play dates and schedules arranged. I’ve written down every doctor’s number and emergency number I can think of. And yet, I still find myself justifying our decision to friends, family and my own insecurities.
Can you tell?
I was up last night unable to figure out why I couldn’t sleep. The weight in my chest is the anxiety I have about leaving the kids. Half of it about their well-being and the other half is the constantly overflowing well of guilt that is motherhood.
What kind of mother would leave her children?
And yet, I know that kind of mother. It’s the kind of mother who’s forgotten what its like to finish a sentence. The type who sincerely can’t remember who she was before she was responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans. The one whose character was once entirely wrapped up in being a good wife with no consideration given to how to be a good mother. The kind who longs to have a second glass of wine without dozing off on the couch at 9 o’clock.
And so we’ll go.
Late Thursday night we’ll head to Rome and then onto Florence and Venice. We have a quick one-day stopover in Vienna on the way back. We’ve packed only backpacks and a carry on, and I actually plan on reading and watching a movie on the flight. If either of us has to go to the bathroom or feels sick we can handle it on our own.
And if I’m lucky I hope I’ll come back the kind of mother who feels free in her decision to leave her children in the capable hands of others that love them. The kind who can carry on a conversation with her husband that doesn’t solely involve the kids. And hopefully, the kind of mother who can occasionally enjoy a second glass of wine and watch a full episode of House of Cards without falling asleep on the couch.
And this face (with two beautiful others) will be waiting for us early on Sunday morning.