Last week, I returned from a week-long work trip — the longest that I’d ever been away from any of my three children. It was a trip I’d been looking forward to in the weeks and even months leading up to it. But once it arrived, a different, all-too-familiar emotion set in: guilt.
As a mom who works from home full-time, my focus is very rarely on just myself. More than half of my day is spent taking care of my children, while the other half is either sharing a bed with them or at my computer trying to meet deadlines. This particular work trip was granting me that ever-elusive alone time that was not only much needed, but also well deserved.
The only problem? I was never really able to fully get away.
While I knew that all three kids were in good hands while I was gone, the guilt that accompanied me on the trip was almost too much to handle. Within hours of me leaving, my youngest daughter got sick with the stomach bug. Soon the others followed. Before long, it took over the entire house, and everyone was down for the count.
In these moments, it killed me to not be there for my children. Although there wasn’t anything I could do if I had been there with them, I still felt guilty for having others take care of them when they were sick.
It goes beyond this one trip, though — I take on so much guilt almost every time I leave my kids, and I’ve never fully been able to release it. While I’m fine dropping them off at school or even taking a quick trip to the grocery store, it’s the obligations that require me to be gone for more than a day that fill me with remorse.
Luckily, they don’t happen often, and perhaps a lot of that is because I don’t let them. But when I am gone, I’m constantly texting or calling to check on them — I can never truly let go and focus on things other than them. My heart and mind will always be with my children, no matter how many miles are between us.
But my time away isn’t easy on them, either.
Whenever I pack, I can usually expect a thousand questions from my two oldest daughters. Many of them are just out of curiosity of where I am going and what I’ll be doing when I get there; but there are other times when I’ll get the occasional tears from them, telling me that they don’t want me to leave. While I know that they will be fine once I’ve gone and they get back to their routine, I know they miss me. And that makes it even harder on me.
When those tears start to fall from their face and they tell me they they don’t want me to go away, I always tell them this one thing, “Mommy always comes back.” And I do.
Whether I’m leaving them for a day, two days, or even a week, it’s natural for me as their mother to miss them. But all I want to do is so desperately be able to escape the responsibility, or even a fraction of it when I am not physically there.
But I think that’s just the way it goes. Because the truth is, becoming a parent puts you on an emotional rollercoaster. It brings you so much joy and love, but with that also comes stress and guilt because you do care for them so deeply. Our hearts are telling us to constantly give to our children and put ourselves on the back-burner. But that’s easier said than done.
Motherhood is all encompassing — and that is at the crux of why you can never truly get the alone time that you so deserve once you have children.
But the one thing that get’s me through it all is knowing that no matter what, I always come back.