The Angst of Leaving Home (Even for a Few Days)
(Warning: This is a whiny one. Wah.)
I head to Chicago today to see Sister N and her family and to meet her brand new baby boy. Chickie (his awesome alias) entered this fine world exactly a week ago and after some internal debate and bloggy banter here on the virtue and vice of advice-giving (and receiving), I am off. And I am excited.
But here’s the thing: I don’t want to go.
Let me explain. I want to go. I want to congratulate my sister and her husband. I want to snuggle her new addition. I want to play with my nieces who are newly-minted fellow big sisters. I want to do all of these things.
It’s just that I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave home and Husband and the girls.
It’s not that I’m lazy. (I am, but that’s not the point of this particular post.) It’s not that I hate to fly. (I do, but that’s not the point of this particular post.) It’s not that I hate to carry my own suitcase. (I do, but that’s not the point of this particular post.)
I don’t know what it is. But the thought of leaving for two whole days and two whole nights? It makes me sad and anxious. I say the thought because in actuality, I know I will be perfectly fine. I am a big girl. I will get myself to the airport with plenty of time. I will check in. I will sniff out some trashy gossip magazines and the nearest Starbucks. I will board my plane and exchange pleasantries with flight attendants and fellow passengers. I might even savor a little nap en route. And then I will arrive at my destination and find my way to my sister’s place. Once there, I will bounce around, doling out hugs and I will study the little man who just one week ago was cozy in my sister’s belly preparing for his debut. I will see if his great name fits him after all.
I know I will have a fantastic weekend. I know I will be so happy that I made the trip.
But now. I’m not so psyched. Why?
Maybe it is because my girls have entered a bit of a Mommy phase? Yes, that’s right. My girls who are utterly obsessed with their daddy have begun to think I am kind of cool. They chase me and hug me and bury their heads in my chest. They croon “MOMMY!” loudly and in unison when I leave the room. Baby has just begun to string words together and my favorite sentence of hers? “Hi, Mommy.” It’s a good one. Maybe a little part of me doesn’t want to go now because we are having this little mommy-daughter love fest and I worry that a weekend alone with Daddy will just convert them back to Daddy’s Girls?
Maybe it is because now that I am a parent I worry more about safety? I have never been a super adventurous chick, but these days I am a downright scaredy-cat. I have never adored flying, but now? I hate the idea of being alone in the air at the mercy of Mother Nature and a man-made machine where I have no guarantee that I will be safe. When my girls are out of my view, I do not have evidence of their well-being. Recently, one of my good friends mused about the core desire to feel safe. Intellectually, I know that flying is quite safe and that my girls will be just fine at home, but that feeling of worry? It’s at once very familiar and no fun.
Maybe it is because I know my girls will be fine and that I will be fine? Maybe I do not want to leave for a weekend because this will prove that I can leave for a weekend. That the Rowley household will go on without me. That Husband and the girls will not skip a beat. That they will laugh and sing and dance and watch Dora and take baths and will not miss me? Maybe I do not crave this reminder that I am not 100% needed, that I am in some sense dispensable?
Maybe I inherited this breed of anxiety and this distaste for travel? Growing up, my sisters and I went on many family trips. That is, with our parents. I cannot remember a time when my parents went away without us. I do remember times—and more recently—when Dad would travel for work, but I literally do not remember one occasion on which we were separated from Mom (who, by the way, does not fly at all). Maybe she bequeathed to me this lovely desire to stay put with little ones?
Maybe this is just an old school symptom of parenthood? Maybe this feeling, this gnawing anxiety and guilt (because, yes, this is probably a lot about guilt), is just part and parcel of parenthood? Maybe it is very normal to be a bit sad about saying goodbye even if it is only for a weekend? Maybe, once we have children, we naturally evolve into homebodies and develop a taste for cuddling on couches. Maybe, once we have children, the stakes are that much higher and we are increasingly aware of our own mortality and responsibility and fear?
Maybe I am just a mess? Maybe I am an over thinking, anxiety-prone, complainer? Maybe I am a spoiled soul who chooses not to recognize the good fortune of having and hands-on and supportive husband? Of being able to pay for a last minute ticket? Of being able to spontaneously hop a plane to travel and roll around in the incomparable joy of new life? Maybe I just like to see the rough spots on a smooth existence?
Could very well be.
I don’t know. What I do know is that I am cutting myself off now. What I do know is that I will be back here Monday telling you all about my wonderful trip and the sweet face of my new nephew. (Or, I might be here this weekend with some pictures of the little guy if my sister lets me!) What I do know is that it is probably good for me—and for my kids— that I get away from time to time. What I do know is that you are kind to humor me by sticking with me to the bitter end of this meandering woe is me post.
Why is this so hard for me? Is it hard for you to leave home too? Do you get anxious about travel? Did your parents travel without you when you were young? If you have kids, is it hard for you to leave them? Has parenthood or adulthood made you more averse to adventure and risk and travel? Am I a big baby? If you are at a loss for words, feel free to tell me I am not alone. And then wish me a safe flight!