In exactly two months I will be taking a vacation with my Mark for a week without my girls. Given that C still nurses through the night and L throws herself around me howling in despair whenever I go to leave the house without her I'm not sure how to even start preparing emotionally for this. And let's not forget the beautiful and stoic R who is excited to be spending a week with her aunts and grandparents in charge, likely envisioning seven days of wheat and sugar overload along with a Jem and the Holograms marathon and a mountain of new books to read. In between going to school.
So here's the question: how much notice should I give L? If it was me, and I know R is the same way, I'd want weeks of notice so I could plan and prepare and know exactly what was coming. But with L, sometimes it is better just to spring things on her because honestly she is going to cry anyway so why make her deal with weeks or even days of anxiety? She isn't dense, so she is going to clue in at some point and I'm scared to pieces that I will fall apart because I can barely keep it together right now. So last week I passed the buck on to a slightly miffed Mark and told him to prepare our girls and make all the arrangements because I was out.
I've kinda had it with taking it all on my shoulders to figure out options and talking it to death and worrying myself sick. I'm not saying my partner-husband!-isn't fully involved, he is but he is an introvert with a tendency to just grimace and bear it when it comes to my extroverted thinking out loud c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y process. Did I mention that the past few weeks I have been on an eating binge, I can't shake my anxiety, I've been short tempered -which makes me horribly sad because I had really been doing so much better-and there isn't enough sleep in the world for me yet I can't sleep and when I do I have horrible dreams? Fun stuff. So I told Mark to do it. And yet, here I am all curled up in a ball overthinking crap out loud (sort of).
I have never been away from my girls for more than fifteen hours. The longest I have been away from the house without them was twenty three hours on the night/day C was born and they spent the entire day with me before I got home at 11:30pm. And that was the last time they were away from me for more than a school day and that was almost 22 months ago. I get that this is as more about me and my anxiety and not about last minute sadness from R, or L and hers or weaning C from her nighttime nursing. Because, let's be honest, R is logical and will be fine. if there are no boobs to drink, C is either going to kill off one member of my family at a time, deafen all of them the first night so that the remaining five are dulled, or just roll with it because I won't be here.
With L, it becomes all about minimizing her anxiety. She had a horrible first month of school, she barely hung on throughout October, but now it's mid November and she actually said "Yay!" when we confirmed that indeed she has school tomorrow. She comes home and buries me in crafts all withi my name and her name and our pictures on it. She doesn't want anyone other than me to drop her off or pick her up and when I even mention going into the office she freaks out a bit because it is a change in the routine and this whole "school on a daily basis for six and a half freaking hours " BS maxed out her coping with change mechanisms for the foreseeable future. Now this might sound like I'm exaggerating but this kid won't go to the children's liturgy at mass with her sister and school mates while I am still in the church. She doesn't want to go to birthday parties unless I am there. She doesnt want to play with visiting friends unless I am within reach and often consequences for poor behaviour fly right over her head or completely devastate her because she is only living in extremes right now. I just managed to get her to run with her friends in the playground while we wait for her sister instead of begging me to play hopscotch as really, that is both a health hazard to me and to any onlookers who would pee themselves laughing at the sight. But I guess with L, two things are going to happen-she is either going to kill me with her emotional heartbreak and Mark will wish he had left me behind. Or, I don't tell her much and she breaks my heart but lets her aunts, Nana, Dumbu,and sisters distract her. Which leads me to my next point of anxiety-do I call and skype and stress both of us out? Because she has that sad little voice and the big tear filled eyes and C will be jumping out of her skin wondering why I haven't come home yet. I'm pretty sure I'm going to call because that's the one thing that would upset R, if she couldn't talk and connect to me to tell me about how her week is going. And such is the balancing act of a mama with three equally amazing but very different girls.
Surprisingly, the one thing I don't have to worry about is that my Dad, of his own accord, committed to taking the week off work and letting the girls stay in our house in order to maintain a sense of schedule and normalcy. We will see how fast he gets manipulated out of that but I will deal with that later.
For now, I guess I need to work through my own stuff. Maybe it's because the last time I was way from them for C's birth things were emotional and I didn't want to be away from them. Or maybe it's because I am a mama bear who spends all day every day with her girls and the idea of being a costly flight away from them is scary for me. Or maybe it's because I don't know what "resort wear" means having only taken shopping trips to Montreal, conference trips to Vancouver, family pilgrimages to France and Portugal, and backpacked through Thailand with a 23lb backpack, and my camera. I mean, my reference points for a beach resort are Dirty Dancing and The Flamingo Kid!