I rarely leave my kids. I have worn this fact like a badge for the last seven years. I left them for the first overnight trip (aside from births and surgery) last summer when my oldest was almost seven. It is partly because I only leave them with family and there are issues of distance and availability in that regard. It is also because I like to be there to put them to bed or at least to greet them when they wake up. Mostly, it is because I have always been governed by anxiety. Like most moms, my heart aches at the thought of one of my children crying for me or feeling sad that I am not there to comfort them. However, in my mind, I know they will not suffer permanent emotional damage from a night or two without me. Sadly, I am not governed by logic.
Anxiety has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It has been more prevalent at some times and has laid dormant in the background at others. Currently it is my master. A few months ago, my sister moved to Colorado and there was talk of a trip to visit her. I immediately said there was absolutely no way I could get on a plane (huge source of anxiety) without my husband and children. My husband encouraged me to get over my fears and take advantage of this opportunity to get away and experience something new. There was a small part of me that saw this as a chance for some adventure and a much needed break. I actually love to travel. Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have taken place while on trips that caused me intense anxiety before departure. I am thankful that I took those trips in the end, but this trip offered new worries as I would be leaving my children for an extended period for the first time.
I was torn between letting fear dictate my life or forcing myself to overcome that fear and buy a ticket. I did buy the ticket and immediately felt like I was going to throw up. How could I be that far away from my babies? How could I get on a plane without them? What if something happens to me? What if something happens to them? These are the questions that have tormented my mind ever since I gave birth to my first child. My anxiety has intensified since having children. It has put a wall up between myself and life. Regretfully, it has sucked the joy out of many experiences for myself, my husband and my children.
I want my children to live life to the fullest. To go for it. To experience everything they can with no fear holding them back. I have not been a very good example so far. Somewhere in my panic ridden brain, there is a small place of logic that knows life is short and we should relish every opportunity and experience instead of agonizing over the “what if’s.” So, tomorrow I am going to get on a plane and go for it. Four days after that, I am going to come home to my babies and hold them for as long as they’ll let me.
- Killens Pond State Park in Felton, Delaware