Monday, February 05, 2001

They need me, they need me not

Last week, I had to go out of town, alone, for the first time since we adopted our children in 1994. I'd never been away from my son overnight; I'd only been away from my daughter one night, when I took her brother to a way-out-of-town specialist. At that time, years ago, she was hysterical in my absence. Knowing how much my son needs his routine to keep in even precarious balance, I worried that he might melt down. Both kids have been doing well in school this year--would missing Mama disrupt that? Put them in a tailspin? Have repercussions months from now?

I worried, because that's what I do. I wrote notes to the teachers, to make sure they would be extra understanding and supportive through the inevitable tears and tantrums. I drilled my husband in all the reasons he should expect and tolerate worsened behavior. I talked to the kids on a daily basis about how I had to go away and it was okay to feel sad and everything else would be just the same and everybody they knew would help them. I determined to call once or twice a day from my remote location. But given my kids' various disabilities--language and learning for my daughter, fetal alcohol effect and all its attendant memory issues for my son--would it be enough? Would they process my absence? Would they remember I'm coming back?

Well, I'm back now, have to admit that it appears my being away made no difference at all to anybody. They did just fine. Teachers report no major behavioral changes. Father reports no major behavioral changes. Children report no particular unhappiness. Oh, they missed me. They were glad I was back. My son's special-ed class even made a Welcome Home poster for me with everyone's signatures on it. But in terms of falling apart without my healing presence...hey, Mom? Get over yourself.

And I'm glad, of course. Of course I'm glad. It's what I hoped. It's a big milestone. It's huge, really, this new ability for both of them to handle change. Good for them. Really. I'm proud of them. And I should be. I should be delighted.

So why do I feel like chopped liver?

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