Okay, well really it is two days. Tomorrow I leave for my first business trip ever since my children were born (they are 5 and 2). I will drop them off at school tomorrow, head to the airport and off I go – to sunshine and warmth and long days inside hotel conference rooms. I get home Saturday night in time to put them to bed. Part of me is excited by this foray into the real world of my future career. Part of me wants to stay home and pick my kids up from school, hug/kiss/growl at them for being adorable/capricious/frustrating.
My husband, D, travels a lot for work. He is so over it. To him, it is simply a means to an end – of getting together to share ideas, exchange knowledge, and possibly eat a fabulous meal on the dime of some federal agency. He doesn’t hate it, but he definitely doesn’t look forward to it. But, I also don’t think that he is laden with guilt when he leaves us. He feels bad to be away from the kids, and he misses us as much as we miss him. But I am not sure that guilt enters into the equation. I should probably check on this…
Guilt. Ah yes, guilt. I have learned in my 5 years of being a parent that guilt is ridiculously powerful when it comes to your kids. It makes you do all sorts of crazy things that in your pre-child life you would never have considered. It makes you freak out that you ate a tuna steak the week before you found out you were pregnant (in other words, WHILE you were pregnant). It makes you rearrange your entire day so that you can pick up your child/children 15 minutes earlier because he/she had a hard time at drop off that morning. (Whenever I do this, by the way, they don’t want to leave school – nice). It makes you drive way over the speed limit in the dark of night so that you can get home in time to cuddle with them before they go to bed. I could go on and on. And if you want a great book that will make you both laugh and cry about guilt and working and mothering, try I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Peale. Especially if you are a mom juggling a career and childrearing, you will so appreciate this book.
Part of this, I think, is that there is a thin line between guilt and love. Because I love my children so much, whenever something doesn’t go just as I want it to, or as they wanted it to, I feel guilty. Even things outside of my control – like my younger son having a vision impairment. I feel guilt over this and there is nothing that I could have done to change this. Ah, guilt.
So, this has been a wonderful therapy session for me (btw - if blogging is therapy we will all save a lot of money), but I bet you are wondering what I learned from children on this one. That is the entire point of this blog, no?
Here it is:
If you are okay, your children will be too. So, be okay with what you do and why you do it. And if you can't be, try to change it (though of course, this is easier said than done for most people). Try to tame that guilt. I try to everyday, and usually I fail, but I still try. The thing about guilt is that it does get in the way of loving and enjoying. This has been a very hard lesson for me to learn, but one that my children have taught me. Do things out of love not guilt. As H told me in the car this morning, “Mommy, we boys are gonna be just fine when you are gone. It will be boys night all the time!” And he’s right. They will be fine, and I will be fine. And so will my guilt. And the truth is, I will not be unaccompanied. They go where I go, they just aren’t with me all the time.