I suspect most parents have at some point fantasized about getting away from it all, and by it all I mean their children and their many demands. I don’t mean running away long term but a quiet night in a hotel somewhere with soft white towels, a spa bath, candles or other fire hazards, a good book and just some uninterrupted time to unwind and sleep. Or at the very least a day to yourself, to do the shopping or wonder around the library without having to worry what havoc your offspring are going to wreak every time you look away.
Just recently I was blessed with 3 similar such days. And do you think I could enjoy them without a moments hesitation? I could not. I felt like I had abandoned my child. I felt guilty and like I wasn’t doing enough every minute that I wasn’t doing something constructive or valuable.
It would seem to me that as they make their way out of our bodies their tiny fingers reach up and grab a little peice of our hearts that they hang on to and carry around with them for the rest of our natural lives. Out of sight is most definitely not out of mind or heart. There is guilt at leaving them, guilt at enjoying moments without them and guilt with every decision you make for them hoping you’re getting something right some of the time but feeling like you’re floundering and making so many mistakes.
I can now vouch for the fact that the first day at school is a kicker. The wailing and begging, the betrayal in their eyes, the abject misery. For 5 minutes, that they then forget the second they become engaged or distracted but stays with you like a weighted vest all through the day wearing at your resolve and questioning your judgement. Is he old enough? Will he be ok?
Nevertheless I tried to make the most of my time right up until I was asked “Where is your baby now?” It was probably just an innocent question in light of the fact I had just confessed to having had a baby about 2 years ago and was now quite obviously alone. However the lack of flowery language to sugar coat the question coupled with my abondoner guilt made it sound like an accusation and it took ever ounce of self control not to start pleading my case, stammer out an equally unflowery defence of my actions, like a child caught with crumbs around their mouth and a decidedly absent cookie from the jar.
“Daycare.” I answered eventually. Simple. Keep it short, safe. No tears. She doesn’t need the whole story. She’d be the first person to engage me in conversation that day to have been lucky enough to escape it mind you.
Have you had to deal with the feeling that you abandoned your children? How did you cope?