Scott left today for a conference. He'll be gone several days, and as I watched him pack I felt (I have to be honest here), not a small amount of jealousy. He'll be staying in a swanky hotel. He'll be eating catered meals. He'll be having adult conversation. He'll be driving alone in the car.
The last time I was alone in the car I kept glancing into the back seat, paranoid about why the kids were so quiet back there. I've only spent one night away from my kids, which means that I haven't slept in or not made breakfast for somebody (What cereal do you want, honey? Sorry, we don't have that cereal. How about this one? Oh, wait, we're out of milk.... how about yogurt? Hold on ... there's only plain yogurt. How about toast? You like toast, right? What? You wanted me to cut your toast into squares? I thought you said triangles ... ) in four and a half years.
Sometimes I feel like I'm a human vending machine. I have buttons for 'I'm hungry', 'I'm tired', 'I'm bored', 'I'm scared / sad / overwhelmed / frustrated', 'I have to go potty'.
I'm pretty sure my kids have a Pavlovian response to my voice. Really. They'll be perfectly fine and peaceful with their daddy until I walk into the room, and then it's "Mommy, I'm huuuuuungry!" You'd think they hadn't eaten in a week.
Case in point: I was in a program at church last week. Scott sat in the audience with the kids as I waited in the wings to go up on stage. As soon as I was on stage and had been speaking for about 30 seconds, both kids had the sudden urge to go pee. Now how do you explain that? Uh huh. Pavlov.
But you know, right in the middle of my jealousy as I watched Scott tuck his book in next to his laptop power cord, as I was picturing myself in the snowy white hotel bed, alone, a queer pang shot through my stomach. The thought of being away from my babies was unbearable, even as I fantasized about it.
That's the crazy thing about mothering, to me. You're like this great big mommy lion laying on the savanna, with your cubs climbing all over you and annoying the heck out of you. They bite your ears, pounce on your tail, want to be fed constantly, and are always wandering away, requiring you to go chasing after them. But then the moment they are threatened, some primal instinct rises up within you and you'd give your life for those cubs.
So as much as I say I need 'Me Time', in reality the thought of it scares me. And if I force myself to go away for a while, I can't help feeling the constant pulling beneath the surface of my heartstrings towards my babies. Blessed relief comes only when I am finally reunited with them, hug my sweet girl and tousle Xander's hair.
I'm going to a women's conference in the Fall. Without husband or kids. I can't say I'm not apprehensive! Pray for me.