Deb and the kids leave for Peru on Sunday to visit her family. I usually go, but decided to hang back this time. It was a hard decision and I have mixed feelings about it. I love my in-laws and my brother and sister in-law live in Lima with their one-year old son. I am going to miss spending time with them. I’ve got some close friends there as well that I will also really miss being with.
I decided to stay because I traveled to New York in October and in November. Traveling is tiring and getting more challenging for me physically. I also wanted to get work done on the first course I am creating for Love After Kids, which I’m excited about. I’ll get to have some peace and quiet, which is a mixed blessing, as well as plenty of QT with Phinny.
I love my alone time, but I have come to realize that I have the luxury and privilege to love it because I am not alone. What feeds me the most in my life is my family. I am sitting in my house alone right now because Deb and the kids are out. I am enjoying the silence. It’s rare these days to be home alone.
It’s always strange to walk by the kids’ rooms when they are away. I imagine them there doing what they are usually doing. Having a few weeks without them challenges me to be by myself and with myself in a different way. It challenges me to sit with the loneliness and the existential web that shows itself.
It’s always there, the existential web. It’s just usually covered up by the hustle and bustle of family life with young kids. When I’m alone, it puts me more in touch with how tenuous it all it is, with how much of my happiness and wellbeing is tied up with them.
I’m happy that Deb will get to spend time in Lima with family and friends and that the kids will spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. I have been joking with my son, Eric, that he is going to stay here with me. In part, I would love for him to be here. He asked me last night if I really want him to stay. I told him that I did, because I love to spend time with him, but that it’s not what I want for him. He asked me if I could decide, would I have him stay or go and I said I would have him go, because one thing that is always clear for me as his dad is that I want what’s best for him. If he didn’t want to go, that’d be a different story.
They leave on Sunday. Saturday is my birthday. We’re going to have a full family day. We’ll go with the kids to the Austin Zoo in the morning and then for lunch. I bought tickets for Eric and me to go see Star Wars in the afternoon and then we’ll have a family dinner at home or in the local Thai restaurant. I don’t want any presents. That is honestly the best plan I could imagine.
So I’ll be continuing to prepare myself in the coming days to embrace the separation and the mixed feelings that will inevitably arise. I’ve done it before and will do it again. The course I am working on is about recognizing, understanding and changing entrenched habits and patterns. This will be an opportunity for me to work on that myself.
David B. Younger, Ph.D is the creator of Love After Kids, helping couples with their relationships since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couple’s therapist with a web-based private practice and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Thrive Global. David lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, two kids and toy poodle.
*This post was originally published on 12/14/16 on the Love After Kids blog.