Monday, November 16, 2009

I am woman, hear me dither endlessly

I just had my 80-minute Healing Hiker's massage (nyam, nyam) and although I do hate to leave my Four Seasons suite, I miss my family and am looking forward to a little three-year-old action. Plus, this desert air is murder on my lips; they feel like bark.

Flying over the Grand Canyon

Flying over the Grand Canyon

While I was off hiking the Grand Canyon and kayaking the Salt River and climbing the Praying Monk and dining on seared scallops with butternut squash ravioli, my kids were kind of missing me. Maggie especially.

The Mister told me this morning that she woke up at 1am last night crying and saying, "I need someone to talk to. I miss mommy." I know. The heart. It hurts.

I've always been a firm believer in taking a break. Being away from the kids for a few days always felt like a good thing, a much-needed refueling for me. But as my friend Vida pointed out to me long ago, your kids don't care about your success or your career or whether or not you need to refuel. They don't even care if you ever publish a novel. They just want you to be soft and loving and available.

This is the rub of motherhood, I suppose, the place where your sense of who you want to be and your sense of who you should be stand across from one another glaring and whispering cruelly. One says, "You cannot make anyone else happy unless you yourself are happy and fulfilled." The other one says, "Shut up you selfish twat and make me a pie."

It's a place where I feel particularly judged. I get a lot of raised eyebrows and disapproving comments disguised at declarative sentences. Things like, "Wow, you are so lucky. I could never leave my kids for five days." Or, "I just feel like I've lost a limb when I'm away from my little darlings." Comments that simultaneously fill me with guilt and murderous rage (I'm not even going to discuss the sexist double-standard here. Fathers, as we know, are pretty much free to come and go as they please).

I don't know what the solution is. I miss my kids and it pains me to know that they miss me. But I doubt very much that the next time someone offers me a free trip to, well, anywhere, I am likely to turn it down. Traveling is one of the great joys of my life. Free traveling is one of the great bargains of my life.

I am almost certain I am not doing my children any permanent damage by leaving them with their loving and capable father for a few days here and there. What that bilious combination of guilt, freedom, joy, sadness and self-recrimination is doing to my own psyche, however, I cannot say.

I could say this picture is about being on the edge
of something, but really I just want to show you again what a badass I can be


Lisa said...

That rock climbing picture is awesome.

I went away by myself for the first time since my kids were born this past September (and Ella is 7) and it was--hands down--the best thing I could have done for myself. I will do it again. Without guilt.

In any case, a great post. I'm glad you got away.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your inner "selfish" self that it is great for ALL parties to separate once in a while or even regularly. You are the best mom for your kids when you are happy with yourself. I read somewhere (prob a book you gave me so hopefully you can give the credit), "EVERY DAY YOU WRITE ANOTHER PAGE IN THE BOOK OF YOUR LIFE" and I don't want my pages to be filled with grumpy mom scenes. It's been funny...when I worked 3 days, home 4 days, I would look forward to returning to the office, the kids were smaller, more needier, more bodily fluids spreading-er. Now I tipped the scale just a hair to be 4 days in office, 3 days at home and I come home more anxious to see them than they are to see me. The weekends are filled with whatever they want from me (and are free). And I know one day far sooner than I would like, they will not want to be around me. So I treasure the fact that when Tyler wakes up and I'm not there, he will sob uncontrollably, inconsolably...that makes my inner "selfish" self feel just a little bit good that I still hold that spot in his heart. Love your post.

Petunia Face said...

As a mom who just started a new almost-dream job, I wish I knew the answer to this conundrum. Hell, I wish I knew that there WAS an answer. But I don't. So instead I will just say how freaking impressed I am with your rock-climbing skills. Seriously.

julie said...

your getaway sounds wonderful. my left shoulder is in an awful ache from carrying hanley around all weekend (sick). i know that there will be a day that she will no longer want me to carry her - as sabrina is now - but my inner self says that i wish the ache came from a long run and a heavy handed masseuse who pressed too hard....

as duncan prepares for his 3 day getaway with the mister, i'm wondering if i need to do the same. where the hell are those free vacations???

julie said...

oh, and, you're a badass.

krista said...

okay, i'm alright now. but, for reeeaaaal, i saw that picture of you laying on that rock over that CHASM and gasped out loud. i'm so terrified of heights that even pictures freaks me out.
(oh, and don't let anyone passive-aggressively judge you for taking a break and leaving them with their father (gasp!) now and again.)

Inner Toddler said...

1. you're a baddass.
2. any mother who tells you they could never leave their child blah blah is lying and seriously insecure and needs to be kicked.
3. really cha cha, you're awesome. I don't know you from adam but you seem like a great mom. in fact you're welcome to watch my kids next time I go rock climbing somewhere far away...

Up Mama's Wall said...

Inner Toddler: Bring 'em on. I'll watch your kids and you don't even have to go rock climbing.
Thanks all for your comments and may you all have a guilt-free getaway in the near future.
BTW: coming home was awesome. Maggie said, "I love your little face and your little breath so much." Sigh.

Caroline said...

Samantha! how did I not connect the dots before? I'm so glad you did. We should get together in real life sometime.
In the meantime, kudos on getting away. I haven't done it too much, but just enough that I'm over feeling guilty about it. It's good for the whole family. Our newest development is sending the boys to a friend's house for a sleepover. When we picked them up the last time, Eli came sprinting in to my arms. Getaways are good, and the reunions are sweet indeed.

class-factotum said...

Pfffft. My parents went out without us. They took weekend trips. We survived. Go. Have a good time. Take a sweater. My mother did not even play with us! What was THAT about?

molly said...

Your kids don't care *now* what else you do, they just want you to be available, but they would care when they grew up if they looked back and thought, wow, mom never did anything for herself and was a miserable shrew because of it. Plus, as been stated above, the reunions are so lovely.

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