I have major anxiety when I think about leaving my daughter for any length of time. School is just about OK, as is one night with a close relative (I would literally leave her with three people other than her Dad), but any more than this and even the thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable.
I aways prided myself on my not being able to leave her. Like it made me a better Mum by being with her all the time. When she was born I couldn’t even return to work and ended up taking an extended maternity leave of three and a half years. I only went back to work when she started full time nursery school and even then it was only three days and during school hours. Other than during school holidays, she wouldn’t even know that I worked as it doesn’t affect her at all. I drop her off at school every single day, I also collect her (except for on the rare occasion when my husband is around to do the school run). I make her meals, I know her routine and her bags are ready each evening for the following day.
I think that maybe my being there for her all of the time when she was little has benefitted her. When I started leaving her at creche for a couple of hours at a time while I went to the gym and later when she started pre-school, she didn’t mind being left at all. I attribute that to the fact that I have never really left her, so she didn’t develop that fear of whether or not I was coming back. The same when she started school, she has literally cried once in all of the times I have dropped her off, and that was down to something completely unrelated to me leaving her.
But it’s turned in to something more now; I literally feel like I can’t leave her to do my own thing. I think deep down my fear is that if I leave her and something happens to either one of us in my absence my guilt would be absolute. How bad a mother would I be if something happened to her and I wasn’t there? Or something happened to me while I was off gallivanting with my friends; can you imagine the headlines, “Mother of one killed whilst on a wild night out with friends.” That is so not me.
I always said I wouldn’t fly without her in case the plane crashed (ironically I’m probably much safer in an airplane than a car with my driving record) but last year I bit the bullet and went to Brussels with my friend. I have wanted to visit Bruges for years and I was so excited but I also felt selfish and anxious. I wound myself up so much beforehand that I made myself ill; literally my stomach was in that much pain that I could hardly walk. I spent the first day of a two day trip in bed. Initially when I phoned home, Grace was absolutely fine, she rarely misses me and she was having a great time with her Dad. But I phoned again and again and finally I caught her when she was tired and she cried for me. I almost forced her to do it I badgered her that much. Still, it has put me off leaving her again for fear she will be upset.
But what am I teaching her from all of this. To be scared, to not be independent and free, to cling to others. That’s not what I want for her. I look at successful people in the press, Victoria Beckham, Kendra Wilkinson and others, specifically, mothers and they are always flying around the globe, sometimes with, sometimes without their families and I think, if they can do it so can I. I have to live my life for myself as well as for her.
I can’t live afraid and I cannot pass that fear on to my daughter. I don’t want to leave her all of the time but when I do I will embrace it and enjoy myself and when I come back to her I will be more fulfilled and wiser and I will pass that on to her.
With that in mind, I’ve booked a weekend away in Dublin with some friends…on an airplane!! Wish me luck.