So, this happens every time.
I'm about to leave for a work conference. I am extremely lucky at my job--I get to travel a lot. And aside from my career, I also take a trip a year, by myself, to visit with my Peace Corps friends.
Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room with a king sized bed by myself. I just finished eating dinner-delivered by room service. The conference activities start in a 1/2 hour. I'll get to learn about all different aspects of sexuality education--my career and something about which I am passionate. There's morning yoga each day and on Friday night I get to go on a bus trip to Rockefeller Center.
But in the days leading up to this opportunity, I felt guiltier and guiltier. And the guiltier I felt, the more my anxiety level rose. What if the plane crashes and I die? What if there's a snowstorm on Saturday on my way home and I am delayed by hours, or worse, days?
Last night I was stressed about packing, organizing and being totally patient and present with my kids. I did none of these three things very well and of course got extremely mad at Lucy who was asking countless unanswerable questions at bedtime....
Lucy: Why did you put me on top of my blanket?
Me: I didn't
Lucy: then WHY am I on top of my blanket?
Me: You got on top of your blanket and covered up with your quilt.
Me: I saw you get on top. I just thought that's where you wanted to be.
Lucy:Why did you THINK I wanted to be on top of my blanket?
This went on and then I lost my patience with her. She cried. I felt terrible for making my child cry before I left her for three days...which of course happened because she could surely feel, in my energy, that I was already feeling bad before I put her to bed.... oooooh what a conundrum!
At any rate, this happens EVERY time I'm about to go do something that is just for me, and me alone. In the lead-up to my leaving, I just start to feel guilty. Who am I to leave for three days? Tad never gets to do stuff like this...HE should be leaving for three days!
Though last night when I expressed these feelings to Tad he simply said, "I do not want to go to New Jersey! And it's not that you're LUCKY at work... you seek these opportunities out. You have worked your way here. You deserve it. Why can't you enjoy it?"
Why can't I enjoy it?
I mean, as a parent, I CRAVE times like this when I get to be by myself, not responsible for any one but me...and then when I HAVE the opportunity, all I can think about is getting back home to my kids.
So, I guess part of it is being a mom. And my job as ALIE KRIOFSKE MAINELLA is to be true to myself and let myself enjoy time for me..it makes me a better mom.... And part of it is being present. I have to be present now, here in New Jersey at the Sex Ed Conference. And when I get home I have to be present there. At home. With my family.
Be present. Stop feeling guilty.
That might be the American Mom Dream. I'll work on it.