Even before I got pregnant, I had heard mothers talk about this “mom guilt” but I didn’t seem to get it. I had heard them talk about feeling guilty when they had to go back to work after their maternity leave was over or feeling guilty anytime they had to leave their baby at home to go do something important outside the house. I had been with DJ every single day from birth so I had no idea what that felt like. Well, this was the case until we decided to travel.
Let me start by saying, DJ at the time was not a fussy child. (Today, however, is a different story) . He was mostly very calm, smiles a lot, goes to everyone who was willing to carry him, sleeps all night, never cries even if he was alone in his nursery..….the list goes on. In fact, that baby hardly cried over anything. He was almost 6 months at the time. Just a week away. Kobby and I decided it was a great time to take a trip, our “baby moon”, “baecation “ whatever you want to call it. My mother was more than willing to take care of him during our two week trip and she was more than encouraging. Growing up, my parents travelled alone every single year even when my little brother was about 4 months old and we all turned out perfectly fine. We were left in the care of our grandma and aunts. So to her, it wasn’t a big deal at all.
Now, this trip was scheduled for several reasons. Kobby and I had been married for a year and a half and we barely argued. Kobby wouldn’t even give you a reason to. Marriage had generally been easy because it was just the two of us. Now that we had a baby, things were different and yes we had help from my mother BUT it was not the same. Kobby had started a new job and was now working remotely for a tech company in the US. This meant, he could work from the home office which was great news but he couldn’t necessarily help out at home because he had a number of hours a day to clock and a software that monitored his work. (ie if he was behind his pc or not). I understood all this but I STILL wanted him to help out more since he was still physically present and I was exhausted. We had petty arguments and obviously my hormones played a role. After taking care of a baby the entire day, the last thing on my mind was to be “lovey dovey” with my husband. I didn’t even have the energy for this and we all know this is always a red flag for any relationship. We needed a romantic trip to refuel. We thought about just going along with DJ but then won’t that defeat the purpose?
So anyway, we booked a flight for the 11th of May. We were going to spend a week in Miami and another week in Hawaii. We had to be back end of June because I was starting my Masters then. We were both pretty excited about the trip until the actual day…
I woke up that morning and stared at our packed suitcases as well as DJ’s, (he was moving to my parent’s home where everything had been set up for him for the next few weeks). All of a sudden it happened. I felt the mom guilt. I wondered why I even decided to go on this trip! A million thoughts (mostly negative) flashed in my mind at once. I had been reading about the volcanic eruption happening in Hawaii (it was on another island far from Honolulu-Oahu where we going to be) and wondered if it was a sign to cancel the trip. I even thought about the hurricanes that had happened in Miami last year and even though it wasn’t hurricane season yet, my mind was running wild! I thought about the fact that I would miss DJ turning 6 months and miss out on his milestones. I wondered if he would forget me when I get back. I had a severe plane phobia and I was just about to get on one. It was too late at this point, all the plans had already been made.
I got on with my day. We sent DJ to my parent’s place and we went to the airport to do an early check in. We got back to my parent’s to have dinner and say goodbye. DJ was in his cot but wasn’t asleep and I leaned in to carry him. I had been dreading this moment all day. I picked him up and immediately, like clockwork, I begun to cry…uncontrollably. I know it was so silly of me because who forced me on this trip anyway? He looked so confused, just staring at me as I balled my eyes out. My mom and Kobby entered the room and in typical mom fashion, she yelled “Heh! Would you stop it?! How long are you going to be away for to be crying this way? He’s going to be perfectly fine, he has no clue what is going on so don’t make him sad”. I didn’t even understand the emotions I was feeling but it wasn’t fun. Kobby looked very amused at my demeanour. My mom prayed with us as she always does and we got ready to leave.
We arrived safely and settled in nicely. The next two weeks turned out better than I expected. It was fun. We facetimed my mom everyday so we could see DJ. He was growing up nicely and had even gotten two bottom teeth now. He always looked so happy and he seemed to be eating well. I would sing his favourite song “Elmo’s World” and he would be all smiles.
Kobby and I also got a lot of rest even though he still had to work in between. I was grateful we decided to go on the trip because it proved to be extremely therapeutic and a great bonding experience. All my earlier fears were expelled as there was no hurricane or volcanic eruption where we were. In fact Hawaii was nothing short of a dream with the friendliest people, picturesque view, beautiful beaches, amazing food. Miami was also fun. Lots of activities to do and we met up with some close friends (who got so many gifts for DJ) and one of my brothers even visited.
After two weeks, I was definitely ready to see my baby. We arrived in Ghana on the 27th of May and I was ecstatic! My brother picked us up from the Airport and we went straight to my parent’s. My mom had been keeping DJ up so we could see him before he nodded off. He was sitting on my mom’s laps and turned around as we opened the door and smiled. I was soo relieved! “Aww he didn’t forget us!” I said. “Of course not, why would he?” my mum responded. Kobby went in to pick him up and then I gave him a squishy kiss on the cheek. I had missed him sooo much! I put him to bed and we also finally got some rest.
The following weeks were also filled with occasional mom guilt as I started school. I had to be in class the entire day and only got to see him early in the morning and in the evening after class. My mom continued to take care of him during the day for the next few weeks till I was done. It was rough but necessary. It’s impossible to have your child strapped on you 24/7 and yes at some point, you will feel this guilt. I am just glad I got to do it then and not now as he’s gotten way more clingy. I have asked myself if I would do this all over again and my answer while I was away was NEVER! However, looking back, it was ideal and I believe couples still need their “alone time” whether it’s travelling, date nights, whatever. I strongly advocate for this. If you can, I say go right ahead. Your baby will be fine.