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My 2 Biggest Fears of Traveling Without My Kids

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I’m headed out of town for a professional development trip without my kids for a few days this summer. As the trip draws near, I’m realizing that I have two major fears about spending almost a week away from my children.

First, I am afraid they will miss me terribly and have a horrible week. I can picture it now: They will writhe on the floor as I leave for the airport, and they won’t smile again for five solid days. It will be hell for them and for my husband who’s staying home to handle child care. What if our phone conversations while I am on the road are too painful, as I listen to my children choke back their tears? Our plan is to Skype in the evenings, but I fear I will see images of their little faces contorted with grief.

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When my anxiety really gets cranking, I wonder if a few days without their mother will irreparably harm my children’s prefrontal cortexes. I’ll be devastated if this trip results in permanent brain or psyche damage.

So, that’s my first fear.

Second, I am afraid they will barely register that mommy has left the building. They may be so engrossed in their summertime activities that they literally refuse my calls. “Tell her we’ll call her later,” they’ll say to my husband. At night when I dial them up for a little face time via Skype, they may cut me off because it’s more fun to suck on grape popsicles than fill me in on all I’ve missed.

I’ve given my husband detailed instructions on how he should lie to me and tell me how much they missed me.

In this scenario, I am the one who is bereft. I am the mother whose children don’t miss her. I will be curled up in the fetal position praying for them to call me back just like I used to wait for wayward boyfriends to call me when I was single. It’s not beyond me to jump to the darkest conclusion imaginable: Maybe they don’t love me. I’ll be sitting all by myself across state lines at a conference, and I’ll feel like an orphan, except it will be my children who’ve abandoned me.

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Of course, the reality will be somewhere in the middle. I suspect I’ll have some bad moments, when I’ll miss them so badly that I can’t concentrate on anything happening in front of me. They, too, will probably have some gloomy moments when all they want is mommy. But just in case they don’t, I’ve given my husband detailed instructions on how he should lie to me and tell me how much they missed me. I’ve told him to lay it on thick.

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