Greg and I went away for a few days without the kids this summer as only some of the most hateful, self-centred, inconsiderate parents have been known to do.
When the two of us go away, it is the parenting equivalent of taking 1000 deep breaths except at the end of the exhale, there’s no Rainbow Loom band to fix, no marker-without-a-cap crisis, no “I cracked six eggs on my feet and the goo is all over the kitchen,” just the two of us reading on side-by-side lounge chairs somewhere in the sun.
Thinking about the kids brings only smiles, never frustration. I think of things like, when I get home, we’re going to bake a cake for no reason and I’m not going to care if the flour (and eggs and sugar and salt and how did the chocolate chips even get into this, they’re not part of this recipe?) goes everywhere.
Or I can’t wait to let them paint my nails and I’m totally going to let the nail polish clump and congeal all over my cuticles because it’s adorable when Chloe tries to paint a flower mixing several sparkly pinks.
Or I miss wearing that necklace they made me for Mother’s Day but it’s nice to let the spot on my chest heal where the spiky wires leave pricks in my skin day in and day out like I’m receiving some form of Mommy-shock-treatment.
Or suddenly, those catch phrases like when a four year old squeezes her way in between Greg and me mid-hug and says, “Step away from each other,” become endearing.
It seems there is a belief out there that every second of every day should be spent “as a family” that all trips, restaurant meals, outings, concerts can and should be done as a group. That if it involves the word “babysitter” it somehow means the family unit ceases to exist or someone has dropped the ball.
I know people who have taken newborn babies to sporting events, lengthy plane rides to backpack around Europe with a baguette in one hand and a baby in the other (okay, the baby is safely harnessed in an infant carrier but you get the idea).
“What did you have kids for if you wanted to get away from them?”
I don’t think the intention ever was (or is) to “get away from them.” I think sometimes it’s finding your way back to each other.
I don’t always like the person I become after days, weeks, months of the same routine, being exhausted at 8pm, unable to watch a full movie unless it’s over the course of several nights or carry on a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation that doesn’t involve the removal of something sticky from a surface that was never meant to be stuck.
Sometimes when we go away for a weekend, we talk about things like how a bill becomes law or Greg’s work or sometimes we don’t talk at all, unless it’s to say, “Can you believe how quiet it is?”
Sometimes I want to listen to music with no underlying educational value whatsoever.
Sometimes I want to watch a movie without my finger hovering over the mute button fearing someone might just decide to randomly swear or dis Santa or the Tooth Fairy or parents.
The kids benefit from these small breaks from us too.
They bond with their Grandparents and maybe even cousins. They learn to figure things out on their own without our constant refereeing. They learn to enjoy another fresh set of dinner menus and what bedtime is like at someone else’s house and “We get to stay up late to watch movies and eat pigs in a blanket but not the pigs, only the blanket!”
When we come home, I can’t wait to hug my kids. They’ve all grown at least two inches in three days. They look different but they smell the same. Their hugs have been missed and are so welcome and their voices are music to my ears.
It’s like getting the team back together for the next inning or after the halftime show or seventh inning stretch. We’ve regrouped, we’re refreshed, we’ve had time to strategize and come up with a game plan for the second half.