I just spent a weekend away visiting my sister in San Francisco. While I recently left Miss H for the first time, it was a trip Mr. H and I took together. This time, it was me taking off on my own while Mr. H was home with Miss H (and because Mr. H had to work over the weekend, my parents helped out).
I was counting down the minutes until this trip – I needed the mental and physical break from all of the laundry, dishes, and parenting decisions. I love Miss H to pieces, but sometimes it’s critical to have a little down time.
After a 4.5 hour long flight, my weekend went by with a lot of:
All the while, Miss H was getting sick. First appetite loss, then rash, then low fever. Mr. H was struggling to decide how serious the symptoms were and what he should do. He looped me in to what was going on and we furiously texted back and forth. “How bad is the rash? Have you taken her temperature again? Can you try and call the doctor’s office again to try and get someone to call you back?” I realized in that moment how helpless you feel when something is wrong with your baby and you can’t be there to fix it.
Miss H standing by her growth chart – she’s getting so big!
I found myself immediately wishing that I hadn’t taken this trip and did a lot of “If only…” – If only I hadn’t gone away, if only I was there to help Mr. H make decisions… I could go on and on. My fun weekend away that I had been daydreaming about for months was quickly filled with anxiety and stress. And, of course, the big “G” – GUILT.
Here I was on the last night of my trip feeling incredibly guilty over something I had absolutely not control over and could do nothing to change. My rational self knew that she probably would have gotten sick whether or not I had been home with her, and that she would be fine with her loving father who would fuss over her plenty. But my guilty mom self still felt like I shouldn’t have taken this trip, and Miss H getting sick appeared as a sign that I obviously shouldn’t have taken the time away.
While I was otherwise enjoying my little weekend break (before news of Miss H’s illness), I was more than excited to come home to my family. We still didn’t know what was going on with Miss H, but it was amazing to see her smiling face the next morning. She seemed bigger than the little girl I’d left just a few days before!
(Later that day while I was at work, Mr. H noted that she had little blisters on the palms of her hands. Mystery solved! I knew immediately that her symptoms meant Hand, Food and Mouth Disease [read more about it here], a very common virus amongst little kids. And something we really couldn’t keep her from being exposed to.)
Obviously, I have come to terms with my “guilty mom self” and have made myself push aside the guilt. I know there will be future trips where I’ll be away, and as Miss H grows, future trips where she’ll go away to camp and other fun activities. And these trips are necessary and important and just a part of life. Somehow, I just have to be ok with that and know that I can’t always be there to solve every problem.
Do you ever get hit bit a big case of mom guilt?