Mommy Guilt Can Suck It

In eight days, I will be in New Orleans, with one of my best gal pals, and…no one else.  No children, no Jon, no dogs, cats, no pick ups, drop offs, meal prep and planning, laundry, canine exercising, birthday parties, Sunday school, dishes, cleaning, organizing, disciplining, or interrupted sleep.  Aside from going home a few days before Jon and the girls to help out before my grandfather’s funeral, this will be the first time in almost FOUR YEARS that I have gone somewhere for more than 24 hours without one of them.  And I’ve having ALLLLLL the mommy guilt about it.

Now, I know, I should NOT feel guilty.  I am allowed to take a break.  I am allowed some breathing room, a space in which, for less than a week, to be something other than wife and mother.*  Objectively, I get this.  After all, Jon is gone for two to three days at least two to three times a year.  And he’s taken non-work-related trips with his brother the last few summers.  He’s usually leaving for work before I do.  He’s home later than I am.  He has meetings and lectures after work quite frequently.  I am the primary parent, in spades.  I KNOW this, and yet, it doesn’t lessen my feelings of guilt.

It doesn’t help that I’m missing the first part of Maddie’s black belt testing for tae kwon do.  And Gabbie singing in church.  It doesn’t help that every time I turn around, something new is being added to the schedule for that weekend.  At first, it was just Maddie’s volleyball game, but now, Gabbie has a birthday party for one of her closest friends at the same time that Maddie has volleyball, and then Maddie has a girl scout hiking event that afternoon.  Plus, the black belt testing on Friday, church on Sunday (at which I was supposed to help with Sunday school, but now Jon is going to do that, too).  And I tried so hard to pick a good weekend, you guys!  I mean, I told my friend I couldn’t go this weekend because of Easter…

What it boils down to is this:  I feel bad about leaving–because while America runs on Dunkin’, Casa de Stopster runs on Alaina–but I also know that there’s no reason I should.  And then I get mad at myself for feeling guilty.  (And don’t even get me started on my money guilt and how I’m not actually paying for this trip with my own money, I’m using “our” money, which I still really think of as Jon’s money because that’s a whole different can of worms to unpack in blog form at some other point.)  I tell myself that 1) Things will be fine.  So what if they’re late to a couple things or a few things fall through the cracks?  2) It’s good for the girls to understand, for their future possible-parent-selves, that sometimes it’s okay to take time for yourself.  3) Maybe it’s good to have Jon occasionally experience what I experience every time he leaves town for a few days.  When I kind of freak out every time, trying to take care of everything single-handedly, and he acts like I’m overreacting and tells me it’ll be fine, while he sleeps in hotels, sits in air-conditioned meeting rooms, and someone else cooks all his meals.  In fact, maybe I’m secretly a little glad that all of this stuff keeps piling up, and it’s turning into a trial by fire kind of weekend.  Tough shit if you have to be two places at once, you better find someone to help you because you can’t be the parent letting her kids down.  Suck it up, buttercup.  This is the big leagues, and there’s no crying in baseball.

And then that morphs into a whole other kind of guilt!  Because I do feel a bit vindictive, and that’s not particularly…charitable?  I clearly have some repressed feelings about always being the primary parent, and I probably shouldn’t because we’re supposed to be a team, and the kids come first (always, always, always, ohmygodwhomadethatruletheyaretheworst), and this is not the behavior of a supportive spouse, and do other people really not feel this way?  Are they really, truly happy to constantly be the one in demand?  I mean, the girls will walk right by Jon, sitting at the kitchen table playing on his phone, to ask me for a drink of water while I’m cooking dinner or elbows deep in dishwater.  (To his credit he totally calls them on it, but it still happens.)  How did I become so bitter as to wish a hellish weekend on the father of my children while I cavort in the streets of the Crescent City?**

That one, though, I can answer:  By not taking more than 36 f’ing hours for myself in almost four years.

Sigh.  It’s going to be fine, right?  Right?  I’ll just repeat to myself “You deserve this.  You’ve earned this.  You are worth this,” over and over until it sinks in.  I’ve got one week…

*And editor because this trip isn’t work related either, but I’ve earned my vacation time (and then some) at work, so I don’t feel guilty about being out of the office.  And I’m not missing important events for the office.  Work will still be there, patiently waiting for me until I return.

**This is not the moment when some of you rush to Jon’s aid.  He’s got this.  (Well, we’re going to asking for a little help Saturday morning, but other than that, he’ll be fine.)  He’s a big boy.  After all, as he likes to remind me quite frequently, he’s a doctor.