I arrived home earlier this evening after four days of no kids and all work training. The house and the kids really missed me. I haven't decided yet how this makes me feel. There are a few emotions going on: I feel needed, because obviously the household business doesn't simply continue on cruise control when I'm gone. I feel irritated because I kind of wish it would. But I also feel something that I haven't felt in a long time because I've never had the opportunity to observe total breakdown: apparently, I am good at being a mom. When I'm around, things generally go smoothly. And although it takes a lot of work on my part for that to happen, I am able to pull it off the majority of the time. I'll admit that I haven't felt a lot of pride in motherhood recently and if seeing the contrast of my kids as they are without me is what it took to do so, well, maybe it was worth it.
My sister Teresa is the one who was taking care of my kids most of the time I was gone (in a freak coincidence, Jeremy had a separate work training conference in DC this same weekend), and I'm sure she could tell you better than I can how crazy things were while I was gone. Magdalena got The Snot Nose right after I left and was fussy and Miriam kind of shut down in the helpfulness department. Plus, Teresa had her own baby with her, a baby only 8 months younger than Magdalena. So basically, I inflicted a kid situation on her that nature never would have.
Teresa told me that the lowest moment probably came when she had to schlep all three kids to Miriam's ballet lesson on Saturday morning. The night before in the bath, Miriam had emptied half a bottle of shower body oil on her and Magdalena's heads. It didn't wash out, so both of my girls went out in public with greasy, stringy, oily hair that Saturday morning. In addition, Magdalena was still wearing her jammies, and too-big rain boots as shoes, and she had a little bit of a snot-nose, and her face was chapped and red because it's so dang cold here, and her coat was dirty because she fell in the parking lot, and she has a bad haircut because I cut it wrong a few weeks ago. So my children weren't looking too good and Teresa got a lot of weird looks from fellow ballet parents. Oh well. At least I wasn't here to witness that.
I'm still so glad I went to the training. I feel more like myself than I have in years. There's something about not taking care of other human beings 24/7 that will do that to you. Or so I've discovered.