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?
Photo credit to the author.