As I pack up my belongings and go over for the hundredth time the list that I have prepared for my caregivers in my absence, a sharp panic rises in my blood. I flush and realize I am sweating profusely and almost in tears.
For what I’m about to do feels about the most unnatural thing a mother could ever do: Freely leave her children.
In only forty-eight hours, I will be boarding a fifteen hour flight to China leaving my two young children at home with my husband and mother who will watch them while I’m away. It is my choice. I am the one who is voluntarily leaving them, leaving behind all my responsibility and going on vacation. Me, a stay-at-home mom whose life revolves around my children, is leaving them behind thousands and thousands of miles away.
This isn’t the first time I have left. The first time was not even a year after my son’s birth, after surviving three long months of terrifying post-partum depression, I actually got on a plane and went to South Africa, just as my son was taking his first steps.
Then the following year I was pregnant so I remained at home. Yet only four months after my second child was born, Sophia, I left again while my mother took care of a newborn baby.
For the last six years, I’ve gotten accustomed to leaving. I have always felt the same. Sadness, guilt. Anxiety, excitement
and stress. I am sad, guilty and anxious about leaving my young children behind. What if something happened to me?
I certainly don’t need to go anywhere. Yet, there is this fire burning deep inside my blood. A strong, unstoppable desire to
travel and see the world. It is a huge part of who I am. It is a piece of me that I felt I lost when I had children.
Is it wrong to do something for myself? Is it wrong to leave my children behind while I travel across continents to faraway lands? Is it wrong to volunteer in Africa and Central America when I have a responsibility to my children and family? Or is this the best thing I could possibly do? Give back, volunteer, see and understand the world and teach my children what I’ve learned along the way.
All these thoughts will be deep within my heart as I prepare to leave for a ten-day trip to China this week. I know that I will be stressed in the upcoming days and that leaving will be the hardest part. There will be tears. There will be guilt. There will be anxiety. Yet, once I’m on that plane, on my way, I will find myself again. That never-ending wanderlust who loves to explore, see the world and help others understand what they are missing!
Have you ever left your children and felt mixed emotions about it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by thirdeyemom of Minnesota, USA. To read more of her blogs, please visit either www.thirdeyemom.com or www.thethirdeyeworld.com.
Photo credit to the author.
I feel mixed emotions every day! When I read your article my first thought was “good for you” – if you know how to find yourself again, then you should go for it! But do of course understand that you feel guilty about it, allthough I don’t think you should. I assume that your husband and mother are perfectly capable of looking after the children, so that they are in safe hands, I am sure it is good for them all to spend some quality time together! And it must be good for your family to have a mother who is happy?!
I went away the first time when my wee lad was 4 months old (and my husband came with me) so we left him with my parents (and when we got back after three nights, they had managed to get him to sleep through the night!)
Hope you have a fantastic holiday!
I read this, and I totally felt what was going on inside your heart and head. You’re in between two missions that you feel led to accomplish. I’m thankful that you shared this with us. It is really difficult to say goodbye. And, it is hard to be a mom and follow our other passions.
You give us a lot to think about, and I feel inspired that you are doing all of this good work around the globe!
I hope China is going well! 🙂
I think you’re exceptionally healthy. Have a great time!
LOL cause right now I am away on my own for 2 weeks and it has been sorely needed. So I think you are perfectly normal -as I am.
Now if this damn jet lag would let up….
I read this, partially with envy and partially with enthusiasm for your God given right to go out to explore the world AND stay home to raise kids as well! It’s awful that people would pass far less judgment on a dad in your shoes than they do on a mom. When I was three, my parents went away to Asia for 3 weeks, leaving my 6y brother and me at home with a housekeeper. Even though my paternal grandparents lived two towns away and were very much a part of our lies, my parents opted to hire a third party to stay with us. Needless to say, I went on a hunger strike and wound up in the hospital. My grandmother was furious. I think having your mother to fill your shoes while you’re away must be an amazing gift for all involved. I wish I could join you too!