Tuesday was my birthday. I am now officially 36. That feels older than it is (I hope) but not as old as Judah thought I was turning... "What are you turning Mama? 56?"
The day came and went like any other day, except the lilacs bloomed just in time to be a birthday bouquet for my bed and to decorate my birthday cake (which was the best part of it, unfortunately) which really is the best repeat present a girl can get. I am particular to May babies for the lilacs and bluebells alone.
Every birthday I wonder what this year is going to look like for me. Will it be a good one? A hard one? This, I believe, is going to be a stretching year for me. A stretching out of my comfort zone year, a stretching to do hard things, deal with hard things and grow better/wiser/more (?) in the process. (I hope that is the outcome, anyway.)
With only a week or so of 36 under my belt, I am going to have my first major test.
I have been given the incredible opportunity to travel abroad to the Netherlands with my Mom, my few uncles and an aunt as they travel back to their familial home, visiting another brother, cousins, aunts and friends, who all live there, in the process. I am the tag-along and self-proclaimed historian of the group. ;-)
It is a lifelong dream that I never dreamed would ever actually come true. And it is going to be amazing. I am so grateful to be able to go. I am so excited to have this opportunity. It is a great gift.
But with it comes real stretching.
I have to leave my family, whom I have never been away from for more than two nights in their lives (and only that on one occasion), and my baby who I have NEVER been away from at all...and I have to do it for 9 days. NINE DAYS. This is truly devastating and heart-wrenching to me.
And I have to entrust their entire and complete care to Matt, who is capable and wonderful, but has never had to shoulder such a great responsibility before. And frankly, is someone other than myself.
It's hard for a Mama to let go. It's excruciating.
Matt took off two weeks for me so I could do this and has encouraged me so many countless times to "Go! It will be fine! Have fun! We'll be great! This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!" He's so wonderful.
But I worry about Matt being able to handle it all. I worry about stress. I worry about Corynn shouldering the heavy load of mothering the baby alone. I worry about Judah and his belly. I worry about Matt working outside too much (leaving the kids alone) or working too little (and not getting to do anything HE wants to do.) I worry that the baby will wander off for a split second (like she always does) and I won't be there to interpret the silence and find her quickly. I worry of sister squabbles and grocery shopping (has Matt ever even GONE grocery shopping?) and of laundry and gardens. I worry about tempers. I worry that the baby will be desperate for me and I will be unable to comfort her. I worry that she will not need me so much when I come back. My heart breaks a million times every night in bed as these things swirl about my head, refusing to quiet themselves.
And those are just the worries for home.
I could worry, too, about going to a whole new country by myself. About flying for 7 hours. About flying at all. About zooming through six time zones. About jetlag. About my time without the comforts of my family, without the distractions of children to smooth uncomfortable situations. Being without my children for the first time in 15 years- who is that girl and will I be comfortable alone with her? I could worry about being the only one in the entire group who does not speak Dutch. I could worry about myriad other things, I am sure, if I had more experience travelling than I do but my lack of experience and imagination prevents it.
None of these take my breath away, constrict my throat, sting my eyes and keep me awake at night like the worries for my family though.
Thursday, the journey begins.
I have lists and lists. Lists to do before I go, staring me in the face every time I am in the kitchen. (Which is a lot!) Lists of words to try to learn before I go. Lists of things I need to buy for my trip and for my family while I am gone. Lists of things not to forget to pack. So many, many lists! My To-Do list gets crossed off and two more are added in its' place. So much to do! I know it won't all get done and I am trying to be okay with that.
I don't know if I will be able to blog while I am gone or not. I'd like to. (I have a sneaking suspicion I may be taking a few photographs...) I'll try if I can. Otherwise, I'll be back in a few weeks...as an International traveler.
Any advice for a newbie traveler? Advice for a Mama who is struggling with the thought of leaving my family? (AMY! YOU DID THIS! YOU KNOW!)
Prayers for us Newmans? Would you please???