Who will bring in the mail while I am gone? I don’t know. I know I mentioned to Howard that he could stack it in the bin at the end of the counter, but that was just one of a dozen small conversations where I gave Howard details of little household tasks that I track and he does not. Some of these small things will be forgotten. Some already have been, since I forgot to even think of them–tasks so invisible that I do them without conscious thought. Awareness of all these little tasks makes me feel that everything will fall apart if I go away. It won’t of course. All of the important tasks will get done. Howard and the kids will see what needs to be done and they will do it.
Yet I worry, not for the tasks themselves, but for the additional stress that my loved ones will feel as they perform last-minute scrambles to accomplish necessary tasks. They’ll scramble themselves over obstacles that I am usually here to make smooth. I’m doing as much smoothing as I can before I leave. Meal plans are in place. Everyone has a week’s worth of clean laundry. The van has a full tank of gas. These small preparations appease my guilt, help me feel like it is okay for me to go and that disaster will not result. It is not as if I’m the first mother to head out for a week-long business trip. I’m not even the first one to feel guilty about it.
Last week I felt very tense about all these little tasks, with the same sort of tension which spurred me to put together a binder full of instructions and supplies for my mother when she came to watch my baby and toddler for a week. These days I can trust my kids to know their own schedules and requirements. No binders required. Yet I still feel the pull of writing notes and plastering the walls with them. Trash on Tuesday! Monday is a minimal day! Youth meeting on Wednesday! Instead of writing a dozen notes, I’ll just write one or two really important reminders. The rest I have to let go. The closer I get to departure, the easier it is for me to let go. I begin to accept that things will be run differently in my absence and that this is fine. My ways are not the only good ways. They may even find better options than the ones I’ve been using for so long.
I went away for four days in April and again in May. I returned from both trips to discover that all my people had grown. They were smarter and more capable because they had figured things out for themselves. They were also glad to have me back. I was glad to be back. I know this will be the same despite the extended length of time. Believing that it will be good for them is the only way I can get myself to let go of the responsibility. I am excited, afraid, curious, looking forward, feeling guilty, hoping for rewards, and counting costs. Tomorrow I fly.