Maybe I am a control freak. Maybe I’m overprotective. Maybe I just really like my kids and don’t like to leave them. But the fact remains that in nearly ten years of parenting, I’ve only ever left my children for two nights at the most. (Once. For a wedding. In Philly. Which is only about 2.5 hours away.) We’ve done a night away here and there over the years, but the longest I’d ever been away from my kids was two consecutive nights.
Until last week, when Matt and I left for eight days and went 5,000 miles to the other side of the planet. Go big or go home, I guess.
We went to Istanbul, then Bodrum, Turkey for the wedding of one of my college roommates. It was amazing and fun and beautiful and relaxing and freeing.
And I really, really missed my children.
Leading up to it, I tried hard not to think about the leaving-the-kids-for-8-days aspect of the trip. And with international travel that included both a wedding and a few days on a boat, I had enough details to stress over without also thinking about the fact that I was leaving my kids.
Not that I didn’t have my moments of panic and sheer hysteria. For example, I may or may not have freaked out the day before we left because we don’t have a will and tried to convince Matt we needed to write a will right then and have it notarized before we left. He was slightly less hysterical and managed to calm me down. (We’re making a will later this month.) But mostly I just concentrated on picking out what to wear, getting travel visas in line, and making a daily schedule for my in-laws, who were watching the kids while we were gone.
We took a direct, overnight flight from DC to Istanbul, which meant that the night we left, we were able to tuck the kids into bed and then head to the airport. This was great, really, because there were no drawn-out good-byes and we left knowing the kids were snuggled in bed asleep and not upset. But as I tucked each child in, with kisses and hugs and promises to send pictures and FaceTime them, my resolve wavered and the effort it took to remain calm and cheerful and reassuring was exhausting. My throat burned, my eyes stung, and all I wanted to do was cry and not leave (not that that was actually an option…if Matt had had to drug me and carry me through the airport, I was going on that trip).
But I soldiered on, maintained a cheerful facade, and made it to the airport without shedding a single tear. I had a glass of wine at the gate–that’s what you can do when you travel without kids–and fell asleep before the plane took off (I was probably worn out completely by the effort it took NOT to cry as I left the kids).
While the trip itself was more than amazing (and please know I plan to talk all about it very soon), the act of leaving the children, as difficult and heart-breaking as it was, was actually one of the most rewarding parts of the whole experience. They were fine. I was fine. Matt was fine. We all missed each other, absolutely. But it proved to me that I CAN leave occasionally. That it might even be good for me, for them, for Matt and I, to have a few days away every now and then.
Eye-opening. Liberating. Exciting.
(And probably not going to happen anytime soon–I am still scarred from leaving them this time.)