As I am sitting here at 11:40 pm on a Wednesday night, two days late on my promised (to myself) weekly post, trying to decide what I can write about that I have the inspiration for and doesn’t take literally 4-5 hours to complete (writing to formatting to photos). I have a few drafts started but it’s all informative posts that really need some time put into them.
So the easiest, I thought, would be what I personally consider (harshly put) “useless babble”, but people seem to like. I have trouble writing posts that I don’t feel in some way benefit the reader, aside from photo posts or travel posts-I am sucker for those.
So that being said, how about we talk about a huge change that has happened in my and Lexi’s life: having to and being able to leave her with her dad and travel (for work or pleasure) solo.
As many of you know, Lexi was a very attached baby. It’s really an awesome thing, because she had strong enough instincts and I had gentle enough parenting beliefs to allow her to develop a very strong attachment. I am a huge advocate for cherishing and allowing the attachment, as long as it is completely child led. So for years, yes that’s right, years, I would basically be in a baby and self imposed prison of being a mom. I say prison as a methaphor because it didn’t feel that way. I was happy to be there for her and she truly honestly JUST needed me. She needed me for breastfeeding, for emotional regulation and, to be completely honest, as I write this for the first time I am actually really sad she doesn’t have the same intense need any more.
Don’t get me wrong, she is still very attached. She loves mommy more than anything but it is very different now. Probably it has more to do with the fact that she breastfeeds minimally now so she doesn’t have such a strong physical and emotional need to be near. But for LITERALLY 3 years, Lexi was at the stage where I would NOT willingly leave overnight without her. Knowing the distress that it brought her to be away from me, especially at night, it was not something I was going to do until she was ready. And I believe, it wasn’t until she was 1.5-2 years old that I was able to be away from her for more than a few hours during the day. Again I attribute the change to breastfeeding and the diminished need for it at this point.
AND THEN SHE WAS READY?
How did I know she was ready for me to be away overnight? That is the trickiest part of motherhood, right? Reading your child, making sure you don’t push them, but let them develop and grow at their own pace. So for years, I wasn’t able to leave for more than a few hours at a time, because every time I would attempt, she would be inconsolable when it came time to breastfeed (and no bottle would suffice, because it wasn’t about the nutrition, it was about the emotional need). I would come back home and be told the stories of how badly she cried after I wasn’t back in a few hours and I was just not willing to put her through that knowingly. So I wouldn’t. Then time would pass and I would say to myself ” She is older now, I bet she can be just fine” and I’d attempt it again. And come back home to the same issue. Again, my belief is that, as a mother, I want to do what I can ( keyword: can) for my daughter, she is my priority. So if that meant pretty much giving up my personal life, well that’s what she needed at that age. I would wait. 3 Years is certainly a tiny period of time compared to a lifetime
So at some point around 2, I left one time for several hours, during the day, and she did fine. Ta-da, I thought! Victory!
Not victory in a sense of “I won!”, but victory because I am able to do what I want/need to do and my daughter is still happy. The time that she was able to be without me increased as she got older and could go without breastfeeding longer (both emotionally and physically). I also feel her spending more time with daddy and learning to trust him to take care of her helped immensely, at least from the emotional standpoint. But only overtime. Or maybe exactly the way attachment works, the child just keeps moving further and further on that attachment leash, always coming back to make sure you’re still there and then venturing further out. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
I used to have a life coaching client in Orlando that I would have to do coaching sessions with every other week and I would have to bring my whole family with me because Lexi just couldn’t stay overnight without me. Mostly because she couldn’t fall asleep, except for during nursing. We kept trying having Andrew put her to sleep whenever I had to be out late, but it would always end up disastrously with texts telling me I have to come home, because she is just not going to sleep without boobie and is very upset. I would oblige each time, during girls’ nights out, or client meetings, or dinners, cut things short, be the first one to leave, grudgingly so but realizing it was necessary.
I started playing volleyball because at that point I could take 3-4 hours to myself and not sacrifice Lexi’s emotional state, which I was never willing to do.
So one day, when I had to be out late (don’t remember for what reason), Andrew took her out on a stroller walk at night, like he always attempted to do when he had to put her to sleep. He turned on some music and walked her around the neighborhood. To his surprise, she fell asleep. Hooray, we thought. Not so easy, mom and dad. That was a fluke.
Every other attempt ended in a failure to launch. So we waited more. Tried more. Tried everything we could, different methods. Nothing would work. So we would wait. And try again in a month or two. Until one day again, she fell asleep in a stroller. And from that point on was regularly falling asleep at her bedtime in a stroller. Done!
Not ideal, but definitely beats ALWAYS needing breastfeeding for bedtime, when I was not there. She was 3 and a few months. Wow!
We attempted putting her to sleep in her bed, without a stroller, without breastfeeding (by we, I mean Andrew did, since if I was home, boobie was always demanded). It just never worked.
We kept doing what worked and counting our lucky stars that it did. It didn’t always work smoothly, but it was an option. It meant I could go on trips for work and not have to pay for and drag 2 more people with me. It meant I could actually go on a press trip. Alone. Kids and family aren’t invited on most press trips, so I had always passed on them before.
That was kind of amazing. Freeing, SCARY, sad and amazing at the same time.
FIRST OVERNIGHT TRIP AWAY
The very first time I got the courage to try this out was when I had to go to a trade show for Melody Lane in LA. She was 3.5. We crossed our fingers and hoped it would be ok. I had never left her overnight before. The first night there was a lot of asking for boobie, but she fell asleep and did fine. Asked for mommy a lot in the morning, since breastfeeding is a big morning routine as many of you who breastfeed know. Second night was better. Third night, she slept through the night without waking up and asking for me (she had been sleeping through for a few months then on and off, I should write a quick post on that too). She did fine during the day. She facetimed with me, we talked, she asked when mommy would be home and if they could go pick me up. And in general did as well as I would expect her to.
Of course, we had prepped her a lot. Talked about how it would work and that I was going away and would come back. She counted days with me and looked at the calendar. We talked about what she would do at night and what to expect. I got her excited about all the things she would do with daddy and the presents I’d bring her.
I even got her an Elli & Noolie Recordable Pal OWL with a recorded voice of me singing a lullaby and softly telling her to go to sleep that she could snuggle and listen to. It has a repeat feature, so it just plays in a loop for 30 minutes.
It did go well. So a few months later I went on my second work trip, Hawaii, for another business venture that I am soon to announce. It was combined with a trade show in Vegas, so the total time I was away was 10 days. That is a lot. Lexi did AMAZING. Like it wasn’t even an issue.
And my third trip was just last week for 5 days to California on a press trip. She cheerfully said goodbye to me, was crazy excited to facetime with me and to welcome me home. But for the most part, she didn’t ask for me, or cry. Occasionally, she would say “How many days till mommy comes back?” or “Can we go and pick her up at the airport now?“
HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT IT?
Well….. insert emoji with really big eyes and red cheeks ( you know the one I am talking about).
I don’t know.
When I think about it, I get this feeling in my gut ( which usually signifies anxiety or fear). I want Lexi to be happy and I want to be with her 24/7. I don’t want to spend a day without her little cheeks, her voice and her warm hugs wrapped around me. But then I also get burnt out. I need to make money, plan for the future, feel fulfilled with myself. We all do. Being a parent is, well, sometimes mind numbing. It’s hard to be YOU, the individual that you always have been, when you are a parent. So being on your own, finding that person who you used to be, doing things you used to love is cleansing and inspirational. And then you miss your little pumpkin and want to be with her. So it’s kind of helpful in that aspect of life too.
But it’s confusing, and emotionally contradicting.
I have to admit, I also feel guilty. Not often, not all the time. But I do. I don’t usually have unwarranted shame or guilt feelings for the most part. But here I do feel guilty when I truly think about it. Just a little bit, just sometimes, just for a few seconds.
I wish I could just turn off my brain and not need the self-fulfillment, be a mom 24/7 100%, but I have a suspicion very few people are truly happy in that role as their sole purpose in life.
I wish I was independently wealthy and just spent all my time with Lexi and didn’t need to work or build for the future.
I wish I didn’t have my brain. The kind that is brimming with a million ideas that I want to do.
I wish I could take off traveling with her.
That’s not the reality though. I do need to be DOING something. Doing with a CAPITAL D. I need to have my sense of self, I need to work, I need to make money, I need to create.
I do it, never at the expense of my daughter’s well being, but sort of with “her permission”. But I still feel guilty.
Now I am trying to balance my work time, me time and Mommy time as best as I can. I don’t feel that just because she doesn’t outwardly express her “distress” about mommy being gone for a few days doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel it. So I try to keep that in mind and be sensitive. It seems like she does fine. I haven’t seen any sort of outbursts or negative emotions. We just have fun together. She is calm when I am gone and excited when I get back.
Still yet this post makes me sad. And you, as readers, wonder why I only write about happy go lucky things. I prefer to ruminate over my doubts in my own head. Once. I don’t tend to think about sad things. Rarely do I lament. And this kind of sucks. So there… I’m off to do something that makes me happy. Like edit photos…
I’m sure I will be back. I’ll stick with writing informative posts based on my life. Something I have figured out and confident about. Not something I am struggling with emotionally when I force myself to think about it. Overanalyzing isn’t a good trait. It doesn’t bring us joy or clarity. It only creates confusion, but we, women, are all prone to overanalyzing. So instead of lamenting, I choose to just act. Do something. Less thinking about how I feel. More doing what I believe in.
But maybe once in a while, I will let myself face the feelings I beneath the surface. That’s not my strong suit. My strong suit is making the best of what you have, striving for the best you believe in and moving on from the inadequacies in your life, ignoring the negative. Bad feelings are for suckers. Right? Right? 🙂
I would rather be a happy mom and person, who isn’t getting hung up on every little thing and feeling, while doing what she believes in. Than the mom who gets caught up in her feelings and doubts over issues that don’t truly exist. Luckily it comes pretty easy to me. And here I am going off on a completely different topic of feelings, personalities and how I handle life. Another post, maybe?