I found out that I'd be going to France when Wesley was just 2 weeks old. I remember receiving the text message that I'd been asked to go while I was still home caring for my tiny little man. The thought of leaving him for 20 minutes terrified me, but I thought that by the time he was 16 months old I'd be ready for a break.
Wrong. Leaving Wesley for nearly 2 weeks was harder than giving birth to him.
I cried whenever I thought about leaving him. Although the trip was a dream, I couldn't wrap my brain around leaving Wes. As the trip was planned, participants were selected, and details started coming together, I got even more anxious. I couldn't explain it to anyone and even Jarrod didn't understand. I knew he'd be fine and I'd be fine...but what if things we're fine?
I actually leave Wesley for work fairly frequently. It's not uncommon for me to have a night away each month and at least one full Saturday. But this was different. Not only was Jarrod going with me and we'd be gone a long time, but we would be mostly inaccessible. We were in a remote part of France for 7 days and weren't sure if we would have any cell service. Talking on the phone was $1.50/minute (which we did not use!) and texting was $.05 to receive and $.50 to send texts. The time different was 7 hours, making it even more challenging to communicate with our family.
To handle the anxiety, the 6 weeks or so leading up to the trip I spent my free time compiling lists and writing everything down. Couple this trip with a big move made me even more frantic! I made lists to tell family about our pediatrician, what to pack for school, what Wesley likes to eat, where all of his things are located, and several schedules, depending on the day. Once we moved, I marked everything, created a kitchen drawer for Wesley, and stocked the freezer with Wesley-friendly foods. I taped emergency contact numbers on the fridge, left the Tylenol dosage chart in a folder, and tried to be sure that everything in our house was child-proof. I also hoped that our animals would survive the chaos and left lots of notes about them. I even left my sister with instructions about how to handle Sophie, in case she got sick again. I left our will, copies of our life insurance (and other insurance), and other documents.
One night a week or so before I left, I woke up in the middle of the night completely panicked about leaving Wesley. I asked God to watch over my boy and remove the anxiety I had about leaving him. I had been doing this on and off over the months, but this was the first time I actually let go of my fears. A sense of peace washed over me. I was still worried, but the deep pain left and I was able to leave Wesley in the care of our family and go to France.
Overall, we did just fine. I cried a few times, worried a lot, and prayed for God's protection over my family. I sang to a sweet baby on the plane and showed pictures of Wesley to everyone I could get to look at my phone. He threw temper tantrums, refused to eat vegetables, and ran into a wall. But he had a wonderful time and I think everyone else did too!
If you're a mama or dad have you ever had to leave your children? Were you a mess like me? How did you manage?