I’ve never been away from my kids. Hospital stays don’t truly count, because they visited. I’ve never been hours away in a different city without them. It’s a weird feeling. You’re probably thinking something like “wow, overly anxious momma here!” but when you consider the multitude of exceptionalities that our family has, it makes sense.
The Destroyer with his sensory issues and massive separation anxiety. The Princess with her anxiety. The Engineer with his behavioral issues, anxiety, and sensory issues. They’re not kids that you can leave with any babysitter or even family. They’re my kids. I am their rock. And now, I’m hundreds of miles away.
Of course, Mr. Genius is with them. They love their dad, and he’s an equal co-parent in everything. It’s just that they’re used to him going on business trips. Daddy is the one who leaves and comes back, not mommy. Mommy is always there. Mommy is always home by bedtime. Always.
My head knows that they will be fine. That they will miss me, but still have fun doing things with their dad. I know this. My heart though – my heart doesn’t agree.
My heart worries about what will happen when the Destroyer refuses to let his dad snuggle him after a nightmare, because only mommy will help. My heart worries that my daughter will wake up and not call him because she knows that my indefinable mom sense can tell when she’s sick. My heart worries that they will struggle – their behavioral issues will go down the tube because their routine is different and there’s a huge piece of their lives missing.
Living with exceptional kids is different. This is one of those times that I’m struck how different it truly is. Most parents would be guilt-free, enjoying themselves, and secure in knowing that their kid is self-sufficient enough to handle a parent being gone for a few days. I am obviously not most parents – because I know how much this will affect the kids.
At any rate, this is good for them. It’s a small dose of missing mom, and it’s the first major step in helping them transition to independence. My head knows this. My heart rejects it, knowing how hard it is for them. I’m missing them, and I’m hurting because I know how much they’re hurting. Worse, I feel guilty for being away from them.
It’s a silly emotion, this guilt. All parents need some “me” time to keep their sanity and retain their sense of identity aside from the “mom” or “dad” role. I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. This trip is just as good for me as it is for them. Sometimes we let ourselves think that the need can only be filled by us, when in reality, others can step in.
The Destroyer may have a nightmare, but daddy snuggles are pretty awesome when you’re upset. The Princess may wake up sick, but she has a great set of lungs and knows how to use them. The Engineer knows that no matter what parent happens to be present, the boundaries and rules are the same. They’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Mr. Genius will be fine.
My heart still hurts.