I've just returned from three solo days in the UK. It was my first time traveling alone since Finje was born. As a woman who backpacked around the world for three years in her former years, adapting to travel with a young child took some serious getting used to.
We have flown to Australia three times in five years with Finje. We also travel together as a family fairly frequently to the UK. Despite this I have still managed to avoid the psychiatrist's couch! So far so good.
Things have changed since the barefoot crusades of my twenties. The mountain of stuff you end up schlepping on any journey with a small child in tow is not insubstantial. As a born light traveler it still makes me nervous.
But a hand-luggage only trip was not the main reason why my weekend in England made me feel so great. After three days I was as refreshed and revitalized as had I spent a fortnight being buffed and massaged to within an inch of my life in an overpriced health spa on the Baltic coast.
Fact is, from the moment I stepped out of the car and into the departure lounge at Hamburg airport I shook off my mother-skin, my wife-skin and returned to Suze.
It felt fantastic. And what is more, I didn't miss my daughter.
I thought about her a lot. We spoke every day. But I didn't really miss her.
So does that make me a heartless mother? Should I feel guilty? Is there some deep psychological meaning to my solitary pleasure?
Returning to Germany, Finje and my husband met me at the airport. In a scene that by rights should have involved tear-inducing background music and slow motion shots, Finje launched herself full pelt in my direction. It was like Lassie Come Home.
Not known for her outwardly obvious signs of affection, she hugged me with an enthusiasm I've rarely experienced. Almost sobbing with happiness, she told me how much she had missed me and how much she loved me. More than the biggest sandcastle in the world, apparently!
Her little face, strewn with tears got me all choked up. I was so glad to see her and her raw emotion was heart wrenching. My heart swelled with love.
But the fact remains, I had very much enjoyed three days without her.
So, should I feel guilty?