The Freak Out

Last summer, after months of increasingly more intense and careful planning, I packed up my three young children – the youngest of whom had just turned 3 – and took on them on a road trip across the mid-west, alone. We tent camped the whole way, except for three times: once when our tent was blown down in a storm; once when we stayed in a “covered wagon” at the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead; and once when we stayed in a “KOA Kabin” because one of the kids had always wanted to sleep in a cabin. We encountered rain, windstorms so bad our tent was destroyed, cold, heat, and a plague of bees. We hiked, scrambled up rocky out-croppings, swam, hung out, explored, went sight seeing, and in general had a wonderful, exciting trip. All of which I planned and executed alone. While I was nervous, I did not loose sleep over it, I was not reduced to a blubbering idiot, or paralyzed with fear…

Which is why I (and my husband) were a little surprised at my reaction when he left the kibbutz this week for a long stint in The States. I was reduced to tears and sobs at the mere thought of him leaving. On the morning before I took him to the airport, I couldn’t plan plan for my first dinner without him. In short I was completely freaked out!

But it doesn’t make sense. We have been here in the kibbutz for three weeks. We have had time to move into our apartment and get it almost all set up (the story about the furniture will come later). I have cable tv, internet, air-conditioners in every room, a refigerator, hot plate and toaster oven. The kids are established in a daily routine of childcare, hebrew tutoring and pool, followed by dinner in the dining hall and bed – which, for those who are paying attention, means I don’t even have to cook. My in-laws live a three minute walk away, are anxious to help, and considerate of my privacy. Plus MANY people here speak English – either as their native tongue or learned in school (English is a required subject from the 4th grade). Furthermore, everyone is happy, friendly and supportive. People want us to be successful here. I have no need to freak out. I am not alone in the woods in a tent with my kids hoping a tornado doesn’t come along to knock a tree on us squishing us all. We are not zooming down the highway at crazy speeds while one of the children has a temper tantrum and throws toys at the windshield from the back seat. I do not have to handle every problem, every cascade of tears, every fight alone. And still I am completely freaked out.

In case you haven’t already inferred, I like a little adventure in my life. I like the challenge of picking up and moving to a foreign country. I like to see new things and have new experiences. I also like to have some control over things. I like to be able to consider most of the possible outcomes and plan for them. Last summer, I couldn’t plan specifically for the windstorm that destroyed our tent, but I expected that at least one night we would have to pack it in and stay at a hotel. Also, I like to have my partner backing me up. In this case, I like to have him with me. My husband and I choose each other to be the person with whom we want to have adventures. We want to figure it out together. When he goes away, especially for the first time, he’s not present for the adventure. I can’t use him to help plan for eventualities, he’s not there to hold my hand when something goes wrong, and to strategize how to make it right.

And so, for a few days, I will freak out. And then, I will remind myself to breathe in and breathe out, and I find a way to keep going.