Without Me

I am the mother of two growing children, a fourteen-year-old and an eleven-year-old.  Up until this summer, any time that we've been separated, have been the one to leave them.  Usually for short weekend jaunts, they've gone to grandparents' houses or friends for sleepovers, while my husband and I sneak out for some "together time."  I've left them for work, too. I've gone to week-long conferences and called home every day to hear their voices, missing them terribly yet feeling deliciously guilty to drink my coffee slowly, reading the daily news at my leisure. No cranky kids to wake up, hustle through breakfast, and onto the waiting school bus.  Nope - I'm at a conference.  

When I've gone away, I almost always call home at least once a day to check on them.  And almost always, they tell me they miss me and want me to come home soon.  "When are you coming home?" is the plea that comes across the airwaves.  "I miss you!"

Okay, they have gone (at least the older one) to a sleep-away camp for 10 days. But even then, it was my choice to send him, and I was in the same town, having my own vacation. (It's wonderful to have family living in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Vacation spot forever!)

And now?  It's payback time.  My two children are leaving ME this summer.  I didn't plan their trips, and I'm actually staying HOME while they're gone.  This seems unfathomable to me.  You know, without fathom?  (Thank you, Megamind!)

My older child has chosen to go to work camp with his youth group.  He'll be helping to renovate neighborhoods in poverty areas across the country.  He'll be gone for a week.  He did this last year, too, so it's not as strange to send him off without me.  He'll come home tired, hungry (always!), and full of new experiences.  He won't call, unless I force him to.  I did last summer. This summer, I think I'll give him his freedom and let him go without mommy ties.

My younger child didn't actually choose her trip, but she's leaving nonetheless.  Her grandmother is taking her to the Pacific Northwest to visit my sister and niece for a week. This will be a wonderful adventure for her. She'll travel in an airplane without me.  She'll visit seals and sea lions on the coast without me.  She'll get to hike through Mount St. Helens without me.  I know I'll hear from her, because my mom will call and make my daughter get on the phone, but honestly, I don't think she'll want to talk much. She'll be having too much fun without me.  

If you guessed that I'm a bit flummoxed by the thought of BOTH of my children having their own adventures without me, you guessed correctly.  I'm staying home, in my own house, and there will be no children in it. For an entire week.  No children. Entire week.  I admit, it's hard to wrap my head around it.  When my mind entertains the notion that in just 6 or 7 years, this will be the norm rather than the odd occasion, I flinch away, unable and unwilling to accept that.  I can't believe that my kids are growing up, growing away, having adventures, without me.

What will I do during that week of no children at home?  My husband and I giggle and grin, plan dinners out, theater shows, NAPS, and of course, snuggle time (ahem, ahem.)  I'm excited and delighted, if a bit bemused at the thought of not having to wake up sleepy kids - yes, I know it's the summer, but they'd sleep until 1 in the afternoon if I let them.  Not having to make sure there's snacks in the fridge. Not having to mediate teasing wars. Not having to cook dinners every single day.  

I'm reveling in the thought of having a week free, but at the same time, I'm mourning. My babies are going off to have adventures.  Without me. 

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