So *this* is mother guilt.

I’m panicking. I’m even kind of shaking. I know it’s ridiculous, but then again, I really don’t.

Bebe and I are leaving tonight on a two-week trip to New York and Florida to visit family. I’ve been really looking forward to this trip for weeks. It was an ‘on a whim’ thing, and I think I’ve been more anxious about life here than I admit. I really need the break.

I figured, when I booked it, it would be a quick and easy thing, and so I’d opt out of bringing Koala. He could stay with his abba (they are very close) and have some fun dad-son time while staying mostly on schedule.

Turns out, you can’t ‘opt-out’ of anything having to do with your kids.

Since yesterday (after no less than three mothers who I spoke to looked at me like I’m insane for doing it) I’ve been overcome with what feels like panic and fear. Am I screwing him up? Is he going to have mommy issues? Am I abandoning him in his little eyes? He’s not even three yet. Is this a mistake? Am I horrible, selfish mother?

Then I realize – this is it. This is the guilt. The real maternal kind. Anything I thought was guilt until now was the stuff of playthings. This – this shaking, this nausea, this panic – it’s guilt.

Oh.

And when I pull away the dark curtains of despair, just for a moment, I see this –

  • The three mothers from yesterday are all cut from the same cloth, which is to say, a very different fabric than me. They didn’t make aliyah, they don’t travel as much as I do, and they don’t realize they have a motherhood ahead of them involving traveling to see faraway family with perhaps one affordable kid at a time.
  • Koala is going to be with his abba, who he’s very close to. They’re going to have a great time. And sometimes it will be hard for Koala. And for abba. But on the whole, it’ll be fine day-to-day. As much as an almost three-year-old lives for today.
  • I’ve been prepping him for weeks. I even booked him to come with me when I go again in the summer. He knows he’ll have his turn soon. Even if he’s not totally sure  when that is.
  • And as my travel agent said, when I frantically called her this morning to see what a last-minute child ticket would cost ($1800, by the way!): “They’re all gonna go for help anyway. This way, you save the money on the flight towards the therapist!”
I feel selfish. I feel terrible. And I feel guilty. I’m not gonna rationalize it away. I’m just gonna start focusing on the good I’m giving Bebe – getting to know her family and some time in the spotlight.
And, hello there, Jewish mother self.