Friday, January 05, 2007

the maternal evolution (on the road)

In a little over a month we'll be leaving for our annual trek into a new country. Travel is a priority for us, and we crave exploring new places without itineraries or reservations - just us, backpacks and the lonely planet.

Since M has joined us, travel has been a bit more difficult. She's still too young to take to some of the places we want to go, and leaving her (although in incredibly capable and loving grandparental hands) is getting tougher and tougher for me.

We've chosen El Salvador and perhaps a short foray into Nicaragua for this trip. And we're leaving M behind - and it's eating at me. I know she'll be fine - she adores her grandparents and they will spoil her and keep her safe. But I also know she'll miss us, and I hate the thought of causing her any sort of sadness, even if it's sadness she'll forget. And a part of it feels selfish - when I hear of moms who have never left their child for a single night I think what the hell am I am doing? Is THIS the primal wound (we are big on primal wounding around here) that she'll carry with her? I am pretty sure that isn't the case. But perhaps it sheds some light into the amazing ever churning guilt complex I drag around behind me everywhere I go.

So this time, when we are booking airfare and emptying out backpacks and finding passports I am finding she is what I am thinking about. The wanderlust is now tempered by the mothering.
I don't think I expected it to go this way. And I don't think I expected I'd feel as okay about it as I do. I've surrendered this year - surrendered to mother. And I am learning I really love it here. I didn't enter easily into this, so the simple knowing of this truth means quite a bit to me. That doesn't mean I don't still miss some things, but I notice I miss them less.

This will probably be one of the last trips we take without her. When she's a bit older I will feel better about expecting her to spend 6 hours on a public bus through the middle of Cambodia. Or 4 hours in the back of a taxi in Guatemala. She'll better be able to understand it, and will even perhaps start growing her own wanderlust. We've started a savings account for her, and we've both agreed that if she wants to use it to travel around the world one day, we'd be thrilled. If she wants it for college, that'll be terrific too. But the open road has so much to teach.

So for this trip, her dad and I will play it free and loose...beers at the bus station and nights in cantinas. Long days on the beach and hikes up mountains. And I'll know I'll look at the stars at night, and I will miss her. And I will see her face in the faces of children, and I will miss her. And it will remind me yet again how lucky I am to be a mother.

31 comments:

venessa said...

You will definitly miss her. But you might find yourself not thinking about her more often than you expected. That was my experience when we left our baby anyway. I hope you have tons of fun, despite missing your little one.

Mad Hatter said...

Imagine. Of all the posts you have written (and there have been some achingly heart-wrenching ones), this is the one that brought a tear to my eye. Gawd, I'm a sap. My daughter is clingy--for me alone. She has no grandparents and no relatives she sees more than once or twice a year. For these very practical reasons I could imagine going away and leaving her at least not for a while yet--and yet, I read your post and feel all conflicted just wondering how I might possibly fit into your back pack.

The staying. The going. There is guilt everywhere. There is fulfillment everywhere.

Thailand Gal said...

Of course you will miss her. She will miss you. But... this trip will also reinforce for her that separation is safe ~ that Mom and Dad DO come back. That is the primal message she will get. :)

Be sure to take your digital camera. We'll all be looking for pictures.


Peace,

~Chani

Mad Hatter said...

"couldn't" --damn typos

J Fife said...

Somehow, I've also slipped and fallen deep into motherhood and haven't minded the gashes and bruises at all. This is such a beautiful post. It's like you plucked the words right out of my heart.

"But the open road has so much to teach" - I couldn't agree more...

Tabba said...

The last paragraph jumped off your blog page, through my computer, grabbed my throat, my heart, my gut, my tongue and has left me limp and full.
If that makes any sense whatsoever.
My god sister, you get.me.every.time.
Everytime.

Oh, The Joys said...

I am so jealous. That is a sin, I know, so I'm trying to work on that.

ECR said...

There's a time and a place for everything, and this trip is yours. M is so lucky to have the prospect of so many adventures on her horizon when she is prepared to take advantage of them. Enjoy!

luckyzmom said...

And you know she will forget how?

Anjali said...

Absence really DOES make the heart grow fonder, doesn't it? (Even when it seems it's reached its limit to fondness.)

The Atavist said...

Take pix. And then show them to her (and to us, your faithful and adoring readers).

You lucky people... I am so jealous. Have fun on your trip!

KC said...

Me. Same. Guilt.

But, thrilled to hear you going on this adventure. I think you need it. And as much as it's tempered by your feelings about leaving M, I think that once you are there, you will be glowing.

And that's glowing that everyone will appreciate once you're back home, especially M.

cinnamon gurl said...

I just keep coming back to the pluses and minuses thing. Nothing is all pluses. As you know, we're travelling with Swee'pea in a week (gah!!) but we are not backpackers like you, so our trip is more child friendly. Even so, my latest guilt complex is that we all have head colds and I worry that the 20 hours of flying for a total of 24 plus of travelling will be torture if he's not completely recovered. At least we understand what's going on, why we're doing it. But he's too young for that.

So... pluses and minuses... seems to me guilt always comes along for the ride of mothering.

acumamakiki said...

It's sobering isn't it? The fact of being the mama, makes everything else pale, even things of such importance to us.

And as a mama who has never spent the night alone with my husband since our girl was born, RUN to the airport! Because at the end of the day, you and J will be better parents because of your alone time and travel time and that's where it really counts.

NotSoSage said...

So far my longest trip away has been a week, but Joe stayed behind.
We're not in a financial position to do this just yet, but when we are...woo hoo! I expect that there will be trips both with and without our little one and I also expect that she (and M) will grow up with a healthy understanding that parenting doesn't tie you down (I've always disliked the term "settling down" for that reason)...at least not in a way that could make you resentful.

mama_tulip said...

Abscence makes the heart grow fonder...

Karen Forest said...

You will miss her probably more than she will miss you. Grandparents somehow have the gift of making their grandchildren forget.

Although she is probably too young to remember you specifically leaving her, she will grow to know that you took care or yourself....as well as her and because of this you will have so much more to offer her. She will continue to draw on your experiences and your examples her whole life.

Z said...

It's a privilege, too, to be trusted grandparents - I suspect they will all have a great time and, after a few days, you might be missed less than you think.

When you get home again however, it could be that M may be quite clingy then for a few days until she knows you aren't going away again.

meno said...

I don't know if she will forget that you left. But she will remember the special time with grandparents and that you came back too.

I admire you for going off to be just two again for a while. Mother is only one of your names.

Lillithmother said...

Went only 4 days without my monkey...and while I missed her, I realized I needed the freedom of movement and endless sleep and bathroom trips alone! She won't remember this Jen...it's not an "original wound" as I call them...you're not abandoning her, you're nuturing yourself so that you can nuture her with renewed fervor. And just imagine the pictures you will be able to share with her...explaining to her what each one is about, it'll be your own story book...and nothing replaces personally lived tales!

Go be free with J...love one another, laugh together, inhale the view...sounds like this will be one of the last "one+one" trips you'll have in a while!

Lil xo

ps. What do you say when someone misses you beyond words - thank you?? Shucks Jen, you're making me blush!

urban-urchin said...

You get the opportunity to miss her! That is the way I look at it when I am away from my kids.

Have an amazing time!

carrie said...

You put that down. Perfectly. Isn't it amazing, what being a mother does to us?

Carrie

ps. Please do try to enjoy your "adults only" vacation as much as you can. Think of it as research for all the future trips you will include your daughter on when she's a bit older! And beers at a bus stop sounds might good to me! :)

crazymumma said...

shit.
can you spill how long you are going for? it is hard, but that type of trip would be to much for her. As to the primal wounding, hell, I don't know. You seem to do such a good job the rest of the time I would think it would make up for it. Besides, are these the grandparents who make her feel like a rockstar?

flutter said...

You are as lucky to have her, as she is to have you.

Lucia said...

Don't miss the beach in El Salvador. It's wonderful...and a very well kept secret.

ewe are here said...

You have no reason to feel guilty for taking some time for yourselves. Your marriage has to be a priority, too; it can't just be all about the kids. I think a lot of people forget how important that is!

And, like you said, she'll be well looked after by people who love and adore her.

metro mama said...

We are going away for 12 days in April and again in Sept. Sean was away for two weeks for week recently and Cakes barely batted an eye (she's 19 months). I think she'll be better off with her grandparents, and we'll enjoy our trips (though we'll miss her like crazy!)

Nancy said...

Touching post. Your last paragraph covers one of the reasons that it is important to do things without your children -- it helps you to appreciate them when they aren't with you.

Also, since traveling is so much of a passion, it's important that you're able to sustain it. A happy and self-fulfilled parent is much more easily able to do the job of parenting than one whose head and heart is elsewhere.

Penny said...

You are so strong and resolute and objective and evolved, seriously.

I would have kicked him in the balls and shouted obscenities at him with I-Am-Mother-Hear-Me-Rage fluxuating tones of scream.

I would have never thought about the potential for 'illness' or other contributing factors, until I was at home, having vented completely on the savage beast.

I would have been wrong.

Good for you, Jen.

And.. pack some pepper spray.

;)

Love to you!!

ecm said...

beautiful post, you capture such contradictions

QT said...

Late to this party, but I agree with all the others who have posted that "mom" is just one of your roles. You need to nurture other parts of your personality too - and your relationship with J - in order to stay sane. Can't wait for you to go!