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Sleepaway for Mama: Leaving My Daughters Overnight for the First Time


In more than seven and a half years of parenting, I had never left my children overnight until recently. Other than her recent trip to pony camp, the only time I was away from my older daughter was when my younger daughter was born. I stayed in the hospital for several days, but she was able to visit. I’d never left my three year old at all. Part of it is attachment parenting, part of it is not really anywhere to go and no one to leave them with.

An opportunity arose within my church to serve as a district delegate to the state’s annual conference. There’s unrest in The United Methodist Church, and my husband was supportive of my desire to volunteer. He was willing to take over the primary caregiving for the four days I’d be away in Shreveport.

There were jokes about me finally taking time for myself or that I should relax now that I was away from my children. There really wasn’t any time for myself during the conference, which was non-stop with worship and business meetings. I worked more there than I do at home; it was just a different kind of labor (although equally compensated, i.e. unpaid labor – LOL). Basically, it was not any kind of break at all. I was more exhausted when I returned than when I left them.

I missed my girls so much it took my breath away. The Monday I was away was jam packed, and they were in an afternoon camp at Little Gym followed by regular Monday evening swim lessons. Our schedules were incompatible to the point there was no time I could call them at all. My husband and I texted, and he sent some photos. But I couldn’t even manage to hear their voices that day. I called early the next morning, which was good, and I’d just seen them the day before and spoken to them on the phone Sunday evening. But a little piece of me felt crushed and disappointed–both that it happened and that it didn’t really seem to matter in the end.

My girls need me less and less, and although it’s the right thing, it’s also the hardest thing for me.

Now I am back in my regular, work-a-day life. Because school is out, I have even less time to myself, and less time to do the work things I need to get done. I have little motivation to do my non-paying work, so the house is getting grungier by the day. I don’t know if that’s related to my brief time away or just from the summer slump and extra complain-y kids because of the heat and boredom.

Every family is different, and I know some moms have responsibilities and careers that lead to much earlier overnights away from their kids. How old were your kids when you first spent a night away? Was it for business or a getaway with your spouse? I’m always curious!

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14 Aug 2019


By Mari Walker

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