I was gone for 5 days. It started with a business trip and ended with a vacation with friends. The night before I left, I was tucking Megan into bed. In a rare moment of emotional vulnerability, Megan hugged me and said, "I don't want you to go."
"I know baby." I said. "I'll be back before you know it. But I have to go."
"Do you have to go, or do you want to go?" she asked.
What an interesting question, I thought to myself and I paused a moment before responding. "Well, the first part of the trip I have to go and the second part of the trip I want to go."
As I said the words I want to go I started feeling the twinge of Mother's Guilt tugging at my heart strings. How do you explain to a 7 year old that it is important, if not critical that as a mother you take time to nurture yourself? How can she wrap her little brain around that? How can I explain to her that it is an essential part of being a good mother and it doesn't mean I love her less but rather, it allows me to love her more? That it is in those times when you do something for yourself that you can come back refreshed, more tolerant and able to appreciate your life more; appreciate your family more. So I tried to explain it in a way that she could understand.
"Well, you know when you are out playing with your friends in the cul-de-sac for hours on end?"
"Yeah." she replied.
"When you are out there, a lot of times I miss you and want you to come in and spend time with me but I know it is important for you to spend time with your friends. So I usually let you do that because I know you enjoy spending time with your friends and that it is important to you. That's kind of what Mommy is doing- going to play in the cul-de-sac with her friends."
"Oh." she replied.
And then she rolled over to go to sleep. I'm not too concerned if she understood what I meant right now. Although, it would be nice. I'm just hoping that my answer has started to pave the way for her to understand it when she's a mother- that's the more important lesson. I think.