We're accompanying Hubs to a conference this week, for a family vacation. But it's hardly a vacation for me.
I am the mommy.
I do loads and loads of laundry, so everyone can have what they want on the trip. I clean the house, so we can some back to a clean space. I pack all of the suitcases. I make Walmart runs to make sure we have shoes for the beach. Sunscreen. Coloring books. I chase down boarding passes and car seat rentals. I scout out Museums and contact local relatives. I check and double check our hotel reservations.
Flying with a four year old and a two year old is its own post.
Once we arrive, I will arrange and organize and set rules and worry. We will go to the beach, where I will be too nervous to have any fun. We will hit the pool, where anxiety will make my heart beat out of my chest. There are too many sad stories out there. They are never far from my mind.
I will make Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches for the beach, and they will be sandy and gross. Fruit will dutifully pressed upon my children. Sunscreen applied, Floaties inflated over and over. Tantrums quelled. Naps forced. Grandparents visited. Hugs and kisses exchanged. I will cry, because every time I see them I wonder if it is the last time. This time, it probably will be. I have been saying that for years. But someday, I will be right.
In the evenings, we'll eat in restaraunts where my kids will behave (mostly) and we'll see Daddy for the first time of the day. He'll be eager to see it all again, do it all again, and we'll head back to the beach in suits sticky and clammy wet from earlier in the day. They might watch the sun go down. I will watch for high waves and bugs and even shark fins. As if paranoia will keep them safe.
We will do this for days, adding in a random Museum visit here and there. Each night, my kids will curl up together; content, pink and exhausted from their day. I will breathe for the first time of the day, elated that another day has passed in which I have kept them safe.
My fear is not enough to keep me from living my life. But I have not learned how to banish it.
On one hand, it is necessary. A mother bear looking after her cubs.
On the other hand, it is excessive and useless. Many of the stories of other families' tragedies are scenarios that no one in a million years could have seen happening.
But we will trudge out to the ocean, to the pool, to life each day. Because my kids will only remember the sand between their toes, the crashing sound of the waves, the days spent in the company of each other, and the good times they had. Maybe I can't stop worrying. But I want to be sure that it's my problem-- not theirs.
I hope that they will never know my worry until their own children play in the waves.