The past few weeks have been crazy- moving out of our house, working, jabs, swimming lessons and the odd Summer holiday trip in amongst it all. It has all been for our impending huge awesome adventure- but still. I have reached a midpoint and something is gnawing away at me making me feel uneasy and I have realised it is because the boys have NO IDEA what is going on.
The children know we are going on an adventure and that it will be 'fun'. There will be lots of swimming (hooray!) planes (Whoop!) and ice cream (Yeah!) They have not a Scooby Doo what it will look, feel or smell like (not always so good, sorry boys). But then neither do I largely. They are blindly trusting us as we lead them into the unknown- maybe they will hate it? Maybe their settled, calm life was really the best thing for them? For this reason I am wracked with doubt and something else.... what is it? Oh hello, old friend. Its Guilt and at the risk of sounding like I have First World Problems, I am afraid it is here to stay.
Since Archie was born I have been plagued by Mother Guilt- feelings that whatever I did as a parent would have been done better by someone else. Not to send melodramatic, but I couldn't help but feel the weight of responsibility- and face the chance that every choice I made in their development was going to contribute to their eventual demise- at best to their poor mental health. At worst, a prison sentence. Working with people with a criminal history hasn't really helped this- most I know come from troubled backgrounds, but some came from perfectly nice homes and families. This just proved to me that my boys could easily suffer the same fate.
I am not alone in this, most parents I know feel the same, to some degree. And it's not because I compare myself to other people on Facebook, I am sensible enough to know that people only post photos of happy, sunny times, for the most part.
My Mother Guilt has consistently felt like something else entirely- it ranges from fear of ruining their chances by the parenting choices I make and fear of having so much power over 2 little people. And furthermore I have guilt from having so much time on my hands to contemplate this. My mother tells me she never had this feeling- she was far too busy.
Whatever it's cause it is alive and kicking- and now with bells on, as I guess it would now that we have pulled them away from the life and friends that they knew and loved. However, I wasn't prepared for it to manifest in so many ways. I imagined we would have endless evenings planning our trips- which we have (and I can now name the shops that hire paddle boards in the Gilli Islands and exactly where I will be doing my salutations to the sun) but also there are conversations on how much I miss my hound and how can get the boys to see their friends on the other side of the city now we live across town.
Our beautiful dog, Zero is now living with Grandpa as we couldn't have him with us in the flat. I love seeing him and miss taking him for walks, but the guilt! This isn't just restricted to the fact that we have abandoned him, but the fact that he is probably happier with Grandpa than he was with us. After all he has a bigger garden and an endless stream of love- and if he is so happy there how can I live with myself when I take him back on our return? How can I live without taking him back- I LOVE HIM!! I just take myself round in circles.
The last guilt phenomenon (for now!) brings me to DAUGHTER Guilt- a close relative to Mother Guilt and not dissimilar.
My parents are the kind of people who fly home from their house in Spain for 3 weeks to drive a 4 hour round trip each day to look after our children- and drop them back again at tea time- so we could work at Glastonbury Festival.
I don't remember actually ASKING them if we could move into their flat on the run up to our travels, but here we are anyway. I just sort of knew it wold be ok and the boys are loving hanging out with Nanny and Grandad. This is all well and good- but the elephant in the room is that soon we will be leaving for an indeterminate amount of time. When we return they will have experienced so much without them, will be different.
In more oblique moments I have to stop myself from asking them to stop being so reasonable please? But they love having us here, and it is selfish of me to wish our time here to be uncomfortable, even if it did make it easier for us to leave...!!!
I realise though that this is exactly the reason we are going. We are so bloody lucky to have passports that take us anywhere, money in the bank and family to support us. We want our children to engage in the world in a different way and to see all people and cultures as equal- we want them to be enriched by the world and experiences rather than 'stuff' around them. I need them to grow up to be people who will fight for what is right and to learn to be... well... unselfish I guess.
So, no pressure boys!! For the moment the collateral damage is that I am wracked with guilt and self doubt but if that is the price, I'll take it.