Why Is This So Hard For Me?

Posted On: 02.05.10


(Warning: This is a whiny one. Wah.)

I head to Chicago today to see Sister N and her family and to meet her brand new baby boy. Chickie (his awesome alias) entered this fine world exactly a week ago and after some internal debate and bloggy banter here on the virtue and vice of advice-giving (and receiving), I am off. And I am excited.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to go.

Let me explain. I want to go. I want to congratulate my sister and her husband. I want to snuggle her new addition. I want to play with my nieces who are newly-minted fellow big sisters. I want to do all of these things.

It’s just that I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave home and Husband and the girls.

It’s not that I’m lazy. (I am, but that’s not the point of this particular post.) It’s not that I hate to fly. (I do, but that’s not the point of this particular post.) It’s not that I hate to carry my own suitcase. (I do, but that’s not the point of this particular post.)

I don’t know what it is. But the thought of leaving for two whole days and two whole nights? It makes me sad and anxious. I say the thought because in actuality, I know I will be perfectly fine. I am a big girl. I will get myself to the airport with plenty of time. I will check in. I will sniff out some trashy gossip magazines and the nearest Starbucks. I will board my plane and exchange pleasantries with flight attendants and fellow passengers. I might even savor a little nap en route. And then I will arrive at my destination and find my way to my sister’s place. Once there, I will bounce around, doling out hugs and I will study the little man who just one week ago was cozy in my sister’s belly preparing for his debut. I will see if his great name fits him after all.

I know I will have a fantastic weekend. I know I will be so happy that I made the trip.

But now. I’m not so psyched. Why?

Maybe it is because my girls have entered a bit of a Mommy phase? Yes, that’s right. My girls who are utterly obsessed with their daddy have begun to think I am kind of cool. They chase me and hug me and bury their heads in my chest. They croon “MOMMY!” loudly and in unison when I leave the room. Baby has just begun to string words together and my favorite sentence of hers? “Hi, Mommy.” It’s a good one. Maybe a little part of me doesn’t want to go now because we are having this little mommy-daughter love fest and I worry that a weekend alone with Daddy will just convert them back to Daddy’s Girls?

Maybe it is because now that I am a parent I worry more about safety? I have never been a super adventurous chick, but these days I am a downright scaredy-cat. I have never adored flying, but now? I hate the idea of being alone in the air at the mercy of Mother Nature and a man-made machine where I have no guarantee that I will be safe. When my girls are out of my view, I do not have evidence of their well-being. Recently, one of my good friends mused about the core desire to feel safe. Intellectually, I know that flying is quite safe and that my girls will be just fine at home, but that feeling of worry? It’s at once very familiar and no fun.

Maybe it is because I know my girls will be fine and that I will be fine? Maybe I do not want to leave for a weekend because this will prove that I can leave for a weekend. That the Rowley household will go on without me. That Husband and the girls will not skip a beat. That they will laugh and sing and dance and watch Dora and take baths and will not miss me? Maybe I do not crave this reminder that I am not 100% needed, that I am in some sense dispensable?

Maybe I inherited this breed of anxiety and this distaste for travel? Growing up, my sisters and I went on many family trips. That is, with our parents. I cannot remember a time when my parents went away without us. I do remember times – and more recently – when Dad would travel for work, but I literally do not remember one occasion on which we were separated from Mom (who, by the way, does not fly at all). Maybe she bequeathed to me this lovely desire to stay put with little ones?

Maybe this is just an old school symptom of parenthood? Maybe this feeling, this gnawing anxiety and guilt (because, yes, this is probably a lot about guilt), is just part and parcel of parenthood? Maybe it is very normal to be a bit sad about saying goodbye even if it is only for a weekend? Maybe, once we have children, we naturally evolve into homebodies and develop a taste for cuddling on couches. Maybe, once we have children, the stakes are that much higher and we are increasingly aware of our own mortality and responsibility and fear?

Maybe I am just a mess? Maybe I am an overthinking, anxiety-prone, complainer? Maybe I am a spoiled soul who chooses not to recognize the good fortune of having and hands-on and supportive husband? Of being able to pay for a last minute ticket? Of being able to spontaneously hop a plane to travel and roll around in the incomparable joy of new life? Maybe I just like to see the rough spots on a smooth existence?

Could very well be.

I don’t know. What I do know is that I am cutting myself off now. What I do know is that I will be back here Monday telling you all about my wonderful trip and the sweet face of my new nephew. (Or, I might be here this weekend with some pictures of the little guy if my sister lets me!) What I do know is that it is probably good for me – and for my kids – that I get away from time to time. What I do know is that you are kind to humor me by sticking with me to the bitter end of this meandering woe is me post.


Why is this so hard for me? Is it hard for you to leave home too? Do you get anxious about travel? Did your parents travel without you when you were young? If you have kids, is it hard for you to leave them? Has parenthood or adulthood made you more averse to adventure and risk and travel? Am I a big baby? If you are at a loss for words, feel free to tell me I am not alone. And then wish me a safe flight!

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24 Comments for: "Why Is This So Hard For Me?"
  1. You are not alone at all, Aidan! I do wish you a safe flight and a return flight that is on time so you can hurry back to those you miss.

  2. I’m afraid this is one where I part ways with you. I love to travel. To me the flying is just a small hiccup in an otherwise wonderful experience. I love new places, and old places that become new again. I love the freedom from household responsibilities. I love the adrenaline rush of being outside of my daily routine.

    As for the girls? I’ve only left my son once in his 14 months. And it was hard, but worth it. I made the decision to continue to be an adult in addition to being a parent. There are things that limit my time with him – time I spend at the gym a few times a week; time I spend having breakfast with girlfriends once a month; and time I spend traveling. These are things that make me happy and I shouldn’t eradicate them from my life just because I am a parent.

    Last year we took our son on our vacation. This year our trip is not toddler friendly and so we will go alone. I’m sure I will be reluctant and sad. But I’m also sure it will be worth it. I have to keep balance in my life.

    • As a matter of follow up (and in the spirit of your earlier post on advice) I should also offer that… This is what works for me. Not everyone loves travel. Not everyone needs to get away periodically as I do. If this is not in your comfort zone then you are a particularly good sister and aunt to go. Congrats on making a difficult (but hopefully worthwhile) decision.

  3. Christine S.

    When I was married and my children were young (2 and 5), my then husband and I left the kids in KY with their grandmother and we went to London for a week. My ex loves to travel, no matter what the circumstance. However, in all fairness, he was used to it because he traveled frequently for work. I, on the other hand, even as a single parent to this day, feel that travel will happen again for me when my children are grown and living their own daily routine lives. And, trust me, this time with them has gone by so quickly that I see those free-flying travel days coming soon. I don’t regret at all for wanting to be a homebody with them or having them come along with me if I travel. (They are now 16 and almost 13!!!)

    And, I don’t like flying either!

  4. safe travels my friend. come back with the baby bug!

  5. AGB

    You will be fine! I promise. Definitely nap on the plane — that’s the best part. And once you come back, you and Husband can start planning your first non-baby vacation!

  6. I’ve left the girls with hubs twice, and both times, I was convinced that they’d befall some horrible accident while he was messing on the computer, not paying attention. I’m sick like that.

    They came out alive, although I’m not sure if my house survived those incidents. It became clear to me that hubs can manage the “basic needs” thing, but that’s about it. Your girls will be fine, but pray for your house.

    Enjoy chickie.

  7. Peyton

    Personally, I do like to travel (by any method), though I see time spent waiting at the airport as a waste of my life and have a tendency to put off getting to the airport until the very last minute (drives my husband NUTS!). Growing up, my family made lots of roadtrips, but since we were the only ones that had ended up far from the home fires, every vacation was spent going back to visit relatives–I felt (and deep down, still do feel) that I’d never seen anything or been anywhere. Now when I travel, I want to go some place new and have an adventure, rather than end up back in Orlando with the relatives (the relatives are all more than welcome to join me on my trip–it’s the place that needs to be new, not the people). It doesn’t happen often, but that’s my ideal. Ryan’s much more of a homebody than I, even though he’s seen a lot more of the world–but maybe that’s why.

    Enjoy your last couple hours with your girls this week and get lots of hugs to hold you up for the weekend. Then go and share them with your sister and her family. You’ll have a great trip, and a wonderful homecoming, I’m sure!

  8. I know exactly what you mean. I love visiting family, and I hate leaving home. Take lots of pictures. You won’t want to forget a minute of this once-in-a-lifetime-mega-wonderful adventure. (Is that enough hyphens to get my point across?) Hugs to you, my friend. Have fun!

  9. I kind of do the opposite of you. Even though I typically have many of the anxieties you mentioned, I ride this manic wave of energy out the door, on the plane, and off to destinations unknown. And don’t look back.

    But. When my husband leaves? Waaaahhhhh. Nooooo. I don’t want you to go. Do your really have to go that long? Surely there is an earlier flight. Your parents had you for 18 years! I’ve only had you for nine so far!

    In other words, I am the biggest baby.

  10. You are NOT alone! As I was reading your post I was thinking, “Welcome to the club!” I’ll never forget the first time I left my oldest for work related trip. She was 3 and I was a mess. I counted the minutes until I’d be back home to her and when I returned it was as if I’d never left. This is a wonderful visit for you, your sister and Chickie (love that name). It will be a great break from your routine and only make you a better mom for your girls when you get back. (And have a safe flight! I’ll be thinking of you!)

  11. For me this sensation – which I share completely – falls into the category of “I always want what I haven’t got.” Just last night I went out with some girlfriends and missed Husband and the boys the whole night; when I’m at home with them, I often find myself itching for some time out.

    Safe travels, friend.

  12. When my kids were younger I had travel more frequently for business. It wasn’t always easy, but there was always something very cool about coming home.

    That smile and hug the kids give you is something special.

  13. Jessica

    You will be fine and my guess is that the girls will miss you a ton and will be even more into Mommy when you get back! Have fun!!

  14. I hear you. I dread leaving my kids. Dread it. But when I do, I’m always glad I did, but the anticipation is so hard!!

  15. Maybe you just don’t want to deal with our weather?

    Seriously, though, I completely understand. Leaving town without my son is a constant push-pull of emotions.

  16. I’ve always thought I was odd because I don’t miss my kids horribly when we’re separated for a few days. A couple times my husband took them with him to visit his parents and last year I left all 6 to go to my grandmother’s funeral. I keep thinking I SHOULD feel guilty and be counting down the days, but I DON’T. I never was homesick when I left home as a child or freshman in college, so I figure it is just my personality.

    Last year was the first time I ever flew alone and it was a little freaky at first, but I loved it. I was a little disappointed how well my husband did as the stay-at-home dad that week. It was supposed to be so hard he fell at my feet and worshiped me when he got home.

    Enjoy your trip and nephew!

  17. Almost every mother I know (including me) developed fears of leaving town when their little ones were little. And it lasts, for years. And then eases when they’re, you know… shaving. (Faces for mine, legs for yours?)

    You’re in good company, but you still get up and go. Right now, I’ll bet you’re snuggling Chickie and sipping coffee with your sister and family. Wasn’t that worth it?

  18. As much as it feels like fear and worry and anxiety that’s making you not want to go, I think it’s joy and contentment in disguise. Maybe you’re just satisfied with your life. Content. Stuck in a happy moment. Maybe that’s why you don’t want to go. Maybe it’s not so much that you don’t want to go, but just that you want to stay more. That, I think, is a very fortunate predicament to have. 🙂

    Enjoy Sister N and fam! Lucky Chickie, getting the shower of Donnelley girl love.

  19. In a perfect world it would have been great to be able to travel with the whole family to Chicago so you and your husband could meet the nephew and the girls could meet their new cousin, but that couldn’t happen this time. It is such a wonderful thing to do, swallow your many qualms and meet the boy!

    But I know what you mean. I’m a big hearth and home person too. I don’t even like to go out at night separately, though I’m always up for lunch!

  20. i don’t know if i can relate to you on this one. these days? i’d be pretty stoked to get out of the house for a solid weekend. i’m certain my wife would say the same thing.

    every year i go on a backpacking trip. it’s usually five or six days. they are arduous affairs and come with a certain amount of (albeit limited) risk. i get anxious before those and have feelings similar to what i think you’re feeling now.

    but as far as hopping on a flight and spending the weekend away from my four kids? color me insensitive, but i’m down.

    hope you had fun…

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