Confession: I'm not as distraught as I feel I should be when my kids aren't around me.
It's not like when we're apart I don't miss them. I just seem more detached than the other moms I know. For instance, once every couple of weeks Nathan sleeps over with my mom and dad (and sometimes my siblings who are in college). Sunday night, he asked repeatedly to see my mom until I called her at work, and we arranged to meet to drop him off until the next day. Sure, I missed him a little, but I also had so much time to get things done without him. Never at any point while he's with them do I think "I want to leave right now and get him!" A week and a half ago, my mom took him camping for two nights. I think every other mom I know would have never let that happen, but I was happy to get time to do homework and have more time to myself. I was glad to see him when he got back, of course.
The same happened while I was working. I missed them a little, but it was intensely relaxing not to be in a routine of manual labor taking care of them. It's not that taking care of them means constantly toiling, but it does have hard parts. Work has adult-time, which for me was really necessary. My need to feel validated by contributing to a workplace was far more pressing than my need to be around my sons all day, every day.
Maybe the fact that I know they're having fun, and in great hands with either their dad or a grandparent, leads me to be completely relaxed and laid-back about them being without me. Or maybe I'm too detached and individualistic, and I'm not the greatest parent?