It occurred to me a few months ago that I have a small anxiety problem. Not normally. But every time Kristoffer travels outside of the country - or even the few times it has been me - I get really, really anxious. He is away this week and so it sort of hit me again - so I've been spending a lot of time thinking about it.
We've lived here long enough that it is not like I am "scared" or unsure of my surroundings, and we have a big supportive network of friends (not to mention our staff) so it's not like I am alone in a strange place. But I definitely worry a lot when we are not in the same country, or at least the same continent. I get worried about his travel and I get worried that something bad will happen to us while he is away (like a car accident or something). And everything always turns out to be fine, so I should learn my lesson for next time not to be so anxious. Except that I always am.
At least one child gets sick EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. he travels. This time Aya's fever started about 4 hours after he left! And she was on antibiotics about 36 hours later. Ha! I'm not even kidding!
It is tough because even though I am exhausted, I have a very hard time falling asleep when he is not in the house. Even though we have bars on the windows and guards outside and security dogs on the compound and we live being tall cement walls. I still can't fall asleep! And there is nobody to help with Aya's night shift, so even when I do fall asleep it doesn't last long. And the busy routines of getting 3 little people ready for the day and then back down in the evening all fall to me (It's true, believe it or not, that the nanny is not around during those times!). And I'm sitting here using our generator for electricity because we have had no power for at least 5 hours (and everyone around us HAS electricity) so I had to call a million different numbers over and over again until the electric company finally answered (after 4 hours): "We will send someone right away"....but it's 9:00 pm so is that really going to happen? Let's just hope we don't run out of diesel any time soon because it is 90 degrees outside and nobody in this house will sleep well without A/C. And one day this week we had a dead car battery in one car and a flat tire on the other car. At 7:30 am. And all of that doesn't seem SO BAD when Kristoffer is sitting in his office in Dar...but when he is in America or somewhere else it just feels like A LOT. But of course, in comparison to the REAL problems in the world like the war in Syria, and the refugee crisis, and mass shootings in America every day, and climate change and the fact that Donald Trump is a candidate for President! The majority of Tanzanians do not have access to electricity EVER, not just tonight. So really, come on. This is small potatoes. I have to get over myself.
But I think it started when we lived in Kenya. I remember that I was pregnant with Grace and working at UNICEF; it was October of 2008 and Kristoffer was traveling for work. I think he was in Uganda at the time and there was a bombing at the UN in Hargeisa, Somalia. I remember where I was sitting when we received official news of the attack. And I remember that I had a complete panic attack - complete with hyperventilating, desperately trying to get in touch with him. Not ideal when you are 5 months pregnant. I still don't know why I got so scared - neither of us was in Somalia. We were both far from the bombing. But I was so terrified and went down the very slippery slope of "what ifs" thinking about the UN compounds in Uganda and Kenya. So I guess that is when it started. And it has never been quite so dramatic, thankfully, but I do still have this anxiety.
So when K is gone, I take some short cuts with the kids. I am probably not the best version of myself as a mother while he away. I let them eat extra treats...I let them play more iPad or watch more shows than normal. I really get into "survival" mode. Which, again, seems a little strange since we aren't roughing it and I have plenty of support. There is just something about not being together that I don't like.
But anyway, the point of this post was to sort of confront the anxiety, but also to say that this week I have had some really lovely moments with the kids that have helped me get by.
First with Aya...despite being sick this week she has been reading and singing up a storm! She is just so much fun these days (also she's pretty temperamental so we may have started the "terrible 2s" a bit early). Here's a look, if you have a few minutes to spare...
And if you don't have a few minutes to spare, this picture takes just a second to look at. After showers for the big kids and bath-time for Aya, I went downstairs to get her bottle and came back up to find this happening in her room.
I didn't set them up that way. Nobody told them to do it. They were all just sitting there - READING different books at the same time. It was incredibly sweet.
And it was a reminder to me to just not let my anxiety get to me quite so much - because look at them...I have everything to be grateful and nothing to worry about. Phew.
But I still can't wait for Kristoffer to get home in a few more days :)