When Mama Puts Herself First… For Once!

posted by Andrea | 09/25/2013

Today is a monumental day in the Dekker household.

For the very first time since Nora was born (over 22 months ago) this mama bird is leaving the nest.

And yes, I feel SO anxious, nervous, sad, excited… and guilty.

But I’m getting over it.

I’m headed to San Francisco later tonight for a blogging conference tomorrow (the Evernote Conference). I’m only staying at the conference for one of the two days, but due to the timing of the conference, the flight options, and the 3-hour time difference, I’ll end up being gone for 2 bedtimes and 2 naps.

Things could get ugly my friends.

My little girl has never been away from her mama for more than 6 hours, and she’s almost never fallen asleep without me right there with her (if this sounds crazy, just read this post and you might understand more of our “situation”).

Luckily my sister is staying with Nora while Dave is at school… and she’s ready for anything. She is armed with new toys, new stickers, new crayons, new music CD’s, nail polish, special snacks, and probably a few other tricks up her sleeve…

She can do this (I hope!)

I was telling a friend of mine that this is the first time since being a mother that I’m totally putting myself first — and like I said earlier, I do feel pretty guilty.

I can’t even count how many fun sponsored trips and opportunities I’ve passed up over the last 22 months — all because I knew it wasn’t good timing, and all because of Nora.

Since she absolutely refused to eat any type of baby food, people food, or take a bottle for the first 19 months of her life, there was literally no way I could have left her for more than 5 or 6 hours. She would have starved!

But now that she’s FINALLY eating on her own, I figured this is a great opportunity to accept a super fun, all-expenses paid, nicely compensated, mom-only “vacation” — especially since I’ll be starting all over with a new baby in a few months!

And speaking of the new baby… to satisfy the many requests for a bump picture, here are a few 17 week pictures.

17 weeks

kissing baby

Now that I think about it, these 2 nights could potentially be my first opportunity to have a full night sleep in almost 2 years — and possibly my only chance for the next 2 years. The only problem is, my body is so used to waking up every 30-90 minutes that I highly doubt I’ll actually sleep all night long (but you never know).

Anyway, back to my mom-only vacation…

All day long, I’ll be talking with grown ups — on the airplane, at the conference, at restaurants, at the hotel, etc.

All day long, I’ll be doing whatever I want to do, focusing for more than 10 minutes at a time, and actually remembering what I was supposed to do.

All day long, I’ll be learning new things and exploring new ways to organize information online.

And all day long, I’ll be missing my Nora “baby” so much it hurts.

Seriously friends, I’m not a huge cryer, but you should know there will be tears as I drive to the airport tonight (and not just from Nora!)

Yes, she feel asleep right in the middle of eating a yogurt on my lap the other day! 

To be perfectly honest, I was super close to turning this opportunity down. I know how hard it’s going to be for me to leave, I know how traumatic this COULD be for Nora, and I definitely know how trying these 2 days will be for my sister and for Dave — dealing with a little girl who misses her mama really bad.

Thankfully, Dave insisted that I go — well, he didn’t force me to go, but he did strongly encourage me to take this opportunity for ME and for my business. And thankfully, my sister’s work schedule allowed her to stay with Nora for these two days.

Even Nora’s therapist encouraged me to go — although she made it clear that there’s a really good chance Nora will try to “punish” me for leaving. Apparently that’s common in high-need kids Nora’s age. The therapist said she could potentially regress a bit in her eating and be extra super-duper clingy for several days (or more).

BUT, the therapist also said that Nora COULD handle it better than we think and this COULD be just what she needs to force her to function without me (which she’ll have to learn how to do more of once the baby comes).

So who knows, maybe this opportunity came at just the right time for me and my little girl?

But that still doesn’t make me feel less guilty right now. Not guilty in a self-destructive way, just guilty because I know how sad and confused Nora is going to be when I’m not there at bed time, or at nap time, or when she wakes up (and needs extra hugs and snuggles).

She’s so young that we really can’t explain it to her in a way she will understand. We can’t say, “mom will be back in 2 days” and have her understand.  She doesn’t even understand when I leave for 2 hours because for some reason, her attachment anxiety prevents her from realizing that even when mom leaves, she ALWAYS comes back!

That’s why I feel so guilty. 

Not because she won’t be safe or loved or properly cared for while I’m gone — but just because I know how confused, sad, and even scared she might be.

All due to my absence — something that could easily be avoided if I just stay home.

But I’m not staying home.

I’m leaving, I’m excited, and I’m going to have a really good time being wined and dined (well, maybe “juiced” and dined!)

I’m doing something for ME and although the guilt is still there, it feels really good! 

I’ll most definitely be sharing more about my trip, the conference, and any Nora “repercussions” when I get back. But for the next 3 days, if you think of me, Nora, Dave, or my sister — please, say a little prayer.

We will need ALL of them! 

Oh, and if you’ll be at the conference, please let me know so we can meet!

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52 comments

  1. Kelly L.

    09/25/2013

    It’s hard the first time, but good for you – you will probably come back feeling wonderful!

    I live in San Francisco, but I’m not going to the conference (SAHM here). Enjoy our beautiful city! This is the perfect time of year to visit.

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  2. Cindy

    09/25/2013

    Andrea, I’m glad you’re going. I’m glad hubby realizes the importance of this. I’m glad Auntie will get some fun time with her niece. So many women need to realize this is ok! One of the things you’ll be hearing tonight (& more women need to remember) is that if you’re traveling with young children, put your own mask on first before putting your childs mask on. You can only help them when you’ve taken care of yourself. This analogy is good for life too! Taking a break (caring for yourself) is taking care of them! Your little Nora girl may surprise you! Enjoy!

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  3. jodi

    09/25/2013

    I feel your pull between both worlds. Beautifully written. I’m praying that this short trip is a blessing to you and Nora and she only has time to make fun memories with her Aunt and dad while you’re absent. :)

    xoxo
    Thinking of you!

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  4. Jen

    09/25/2013

    Before you mentioned what her therapist said, I was totally thinking that maybe this will actually be a good thing for Nora! I will say a prayer all goes well :)

    And my baby is 15-months old and I still haven’t left him for more than a few hours….that guilt factor is tough!

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  5. Courtney

    09/25/2013

    I wish I had read this earlier :( have you considered writing a social story for Nora? If you would like, please email me and I can help. It may be too late for this trip but can help for when you have to leave in the future. Even for a few hours. They can be very reassuring for high needs children. Enjoy!

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  6. JoDi

    09/25/2013

    Have a FANTASTIC time! I hope this is a great thing for both of you, but if Nora has a meltdown while you’re gone, I hope they don’t tell you a thing until you get back!

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  7. Kara

    09/25/2013

    Good Luck! I hope you have a great time. I pray Nora has fun with her Aunt and her Daddy.

    : )

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  8. Nessa

    09/25/2013

    GO YOU!! Have fun and I am sure she will be all in one piece when you get home, spoiled but glad to see you.

    My daughter was very similar to Norah. I tried going back to work when she was 12 weeks old and NO ONE could keep her. Not grandmas, aunts or trained professionals. The first time I left her overnight she was 23 months old, and it was rough (for the grandparents). I wish I had known of the books you have mentioned recently.

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  9. Sandy K

    09/25/2013

    You two look so special together. Even with the cute little baby bump!

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  10. Liz

    09/26/2013

    Nora will be fine and well cared for! Sometimes we underestimate our children and do not give them enough credit. Enjoy your time away and hopefully you will make time to do things like this in the future.

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  11. Holly

    09/27/2013

    So glad that you’re getting some much needed time to yourself.
    Quick question, do you and Nora have a goodbye routine? When we say bye to our daughter (now 25 months), we’ve always done it the same way, which gives her some familiarity around saying bye. It seemed to help her when she was getting used to one of us leaving.

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