I have a problem. I hesitate to admit it because then I can't take it back.
Since having my first child, and at once compounded at the birth of my second, I have suffered from unwavering and, at times, annoyingly limiting anxiety over any “voluntary” absence from their little selves. I put that in quotations, because what is voluntary is, well, subject to interpretation.
I mean, we might all agree that date night is techinically voluntary (and essentially unheard of before June was over a year), but, I mean, isn’t work kinda voluntary, too (do I HAVE to pay off my school loans)? What about going to a doctor's appointment (my kids see me naked all the time anyway)? On a run (that jogging stroller is probably really helping me)? Seeing friends (is once every three months too much)? Napping during the day after working all night? Leaving your house at anytime for anything without them in tow? All, technically, voluntary? Right? But also, reportedly, required parts of a balanced, adult life.
Yet, when faced with virtually any of these activities, particularly those that require me to be gone more than a few hours, I partake somewhat unwillingly, with guilt and anxiety leading up to and often throughout the aforementioned deed. I have no idea why this exists for me and not at all for Tygh. Is it some strange insecurity about my parenting? Am I worried about something happening (which, let's be honest, is just as possible in my presence)? Or that no one can care for my kids as well as I (once again, being honest, not at all true)? Or that they'll resent my absence (despite the fact that this is part of raising healthy, independent people)?
Sadly, all of the above. And, despite over 5 years of practice, countless talk-me-off-this-ledge convos from some of my nearest and dearest, and almost unequivocal satisfaction at having done whatever-it-was after the fact, it has gotten no better.
A strange double-edged sword this is, because often when I'm with them, I'm counting down the minutes until nap time, wondering how much longer I can pretend to be thrilled by playing Princess Candyland.
After doing much research on the matter (read: surveying every mother I know), I realize this is a pandemic. Many of us crave alone time, yet not one of us leaves our kids with total abandon.
As I type, I am sitting on a plane on my way to a conference for work. It’s not something that is contractually required of me, per se, but it is something I am interested in, something that will further my professional knowledge and growth, something I have been looking forward to for months...something I am still trying to convince myself (and anyone else who will listen) is "worth it."
Which may explain why the whole week before leaving, I have had headaches, trouble sleeping, long, meaningful hugs with each child who is also forced to endure far too many kisses and “I love you"s.
Then, because I am traveling alone, I think through a whole host of things I must tell Tygh not to forget, like he’s a babysitter and not their father.
Me: The baby monitor has to be plugged in at night.
Tygh: Uhm, Hon, yeah, I know.
Me: And, you know, June likes breakfast everyday.
Tygh: Right. I'm on it.
Me: And Harvey really shouldn't be fed arsenic at this age...
Tygh has endured this often enough that he is unbelievably patient with me, kind and calm about it all, taking in everything I throw at him with “of course” and “you got it.” But I am positive I am annoying the shit out of him and everyone else in the house. Meanwhile, my dear lovely, lovely friends, who know me all too well, check in and make sure I am going to have a drink the minute I get to the airport, even if it is 8am.
While I often work out part of my anxiety at leaving by buying and preparing an inordinate amount of food for the kids (if my plane goes down I want them to remember I didn’t fuck up the pasta), this time I followed Tygh’s advice (insistence, sweet man) and let him handle it all. I DID however, get in one last meal with them this morning.
These waffles are money. They’re on all sorts of websites, but were originally discovered for wide dissemination by Rachel Ray, on that show she did, 40 Dollars a Day. They are known as Aretha Frankenstein’s Waffles of Insane Greatness. And that they are. Crisp and golden on the outside, but just perfectly doughy and soft on the inside, they won’t disappoint. You can make a double batch and fridge or freeze them later for toasting. Don't be dissuaded by the addition of cornstarch to the batter - an ingredient I have recently realized has infinite uses in the crisping department - it's the key to the whole thing.
Last Wednesday, the night before my trip, after the kids had long been in bed and presumed asleep, June came squeaking into our room, sniffling softly.
“Mom? Didn’t you hear me in my bed crying?”
“No, June, I’m sorry! I was asleep…what's wrong???”
And then, heaving sobs:
"I don't want you to leeeeaaaavvve!"
Aretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter and syrup, for serving
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking together. Add wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Let sit for 30 minutes. Cook on ungreased, hot waffle iron, according to manufacturers instructions. Serve with butter and syrup.
From Rachel Ray's $40 a Day