It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it. ~From the television show The Golden Girls
This year marked the third Mother’s Day without my Mom, and the first Mother’s Day I’ve been away from my children as I venture through London with a bestie and make my way over to Wales to visit my British cousins.
Since my Mom’s passing, I’ve been focused on caring for my family, managing Lyme disease, and assisting my Dad. My life has been busy and full, yet I felt something was missing.
Last September, I woke up one morning with this intense feeling that I had to visit my Mom’s family, a side of the family she had visited with, and corresponded with, on a regular basis. A family I felt I knew so well yet didn’t know at all. A family who lived in a country I felt rooted to, yet had only visited once before, 35 years ago. The idea of visiting the UK was exciting yet scary – and I had never been away from my husband and boys for more than a few days.
As my departure date grew closer, I became more anxious about leaving my husband and the boys behind. Baseball games and practices. Homework. Two proms. What kind of mother was I, leaving them alone? How would they do without me?
“This trip will be good for you, “my younger brother said.
“Everyone will be fine” my Dad reassured me.
“We’ll be okay,” my husband told me.
The encouragement from the men in my life was surprising and comforting. It had been a long time since I’ve had a break from the day-to-day care of my family. I had fallen into a routine of taking care of everyone, coordinating schedules, and making sure our home ran smoothly.
I wondered what my Mom would have said to me if she were still alive. I can hear her voice in my head: “You need to take care of yourself, Karen” or “Let go of your fears, life is too short” – and I know she would be right.
In just a few days, I’ve roamed Soho and Leicester Square, explored the Columbia Road Flower Market, visited Kensington Mews and walked over 38 miles. I’ve been navigating the transit system, exploring beyond the guidebooks, and have overcome my fear of being out of my comfort zone and routine.
In that same time period, my husband has run the errands, helped my older son ready for two proms, taken my younger son to baseball, tended to the dog and the house – and, based on the pictures he’s texted and the phone calls I’ve received: they are all doing a great job. Clearly, they can get along well without me.
In the meantime, as I look at their photos, read their texts, and connect with them on Facetime, I can’t help but get a little homesick. It is the bittersweet feeling of the gift of following my way back to my roots in the UK while missing the roots I’ve tended to and cared for: the ones at home.