I have been away. Not just from blogging, Twitter and the internet but away from my children and husband too. For the first time in seventeen years I managed to have a long weekend away from my immediate family. I didn’t go far, just went to be with my twin sister and to spend a couple of days with my youngest sister who has a new baby.
I had been looking forward to it for months. For years, I have felt that I needed a complete break from the responsibility of home and family, just some time out where the only one I had to look after was me. As I do all the childcare and housework, and for many years worked outside the home too, I felt I deserved that much. My husband has a week away by himself every June and several weekends throughout the year. I have planned time away before now but at the last minute my husband has always announced plans to be away at the same time so I have had to give in and cancel my plans as I have never had enough notice to arrange for someone else to look after the children. He tried his best to jeopardise my plans by organising a business trip to coincide with my visit to my sisters. However, this time I stood my ground and informed him in no uncertain terms that he was to be back before I left.
To my surprise and joy, several of my friends told me that whether he was back or not I would be going, they had arranged their schedules so that they could step into the breach if the worst happened. I feel very lucky to have such wonderfully kind and supportive friends, especially those who have children of their own as I know how much having to do so would disrupt their family lives.
Thankfully, they didn’t have to keep their promise as he came back the night before I left. I had misgivings about leaving the children as I have never done so before but left long detailed lists of what they were to cook for dinner and what I had bought in for packed lunches each day, what time the little one needed to be in bed at and what inhalers she needed to take and how often. They assured me they would be fine so off I went.
I enjoyed my visit to my sisters and we had a nice time catching up, chatting and spending time with my newest niece, who is just adorable. The downside though was I never got the much needed break from responsibility for my own children. I had expected to miss them, to perhaps have the odd tearful phone call from them or text messages telling me they missed me what I had not anticipated was their constant need for reassurance, or to talk through their day, to ask questions about homework or housework.
I had brought my Kindle Fire with me, and it has Skype loaded on it, I told them I would talk to them the first evening just so they would know I had arrived safely. That I think was my first mistake because from then on, every hour or so they would Skype me with questions or to sort out an argument, often squabbling about who should be talking to me.
On the third day, in sheer frustration I switched off the wireless on the Kindle and my mobile phone, I had already spoken to them about six times that day. A few minutes later my sister’s land line rang, it was my eldest looking for me, she thought there was something wrong with the wireless as I had gone off Skype.
Each time I spoke to the children, I asked them where their father was, told them to ask him whatever it was they needed to know. I got the same answers every time, either he had gone out and left them on their own or he was in bed, he was grumpy, they didn’t want to ask him or he told them to ask me.
So instead of having a complete break I ended up feeling guilty that I had left them to cope on their own, frustrated because I had not managed to have the break that I needed, and wondered how it is that they can have two parents yet feel that I am the only one they can turn to. Even when I am not there I still end up taking responsibility.