Wednesday, February 12, 2014

There and Back Again

About a week ago, I sat next to my sunscreened husband on a catamaran boat, our legs swinging over the side as we watched the sun set over the Caribbean Sea. The air was warm and breezy, the drinks refreshing, the sea clear and blue.



Hubs and I just spent 7--but really 9 because of travel times--days and nights away from our little Munch. It was our 12th anniversary on February 1, and it was a perfect way to spend it.

Not to sound ungrateful, (bear with me) but this is not a trip I asked for. In fact, when Hubs called me a year ago and said he'd won the trip in a drawing at work, I immediately began to cry.

Because I knew. I knew I would "have" to go. And I knew Munch would not be.


Winning a trip as a mother is not the same as winning a trip as a free-wheeling single lady (disclaimer: I have never been this person, but I imagine it's not the same). First thoughts were not of snorkeling and excursions and how many bathing suits to bring but OH MY GOD I CAN NEVER SPEND THAT MUCH TIME AWAY FROM MUNCH. I felt panicky and scared and sad.

There was a lot of motherly guilt thrown in at the beginning of trip planning: A mother "shouldn't" "abandon" her child to go off on a vacation. A mother "shouldn't" be able to spend 9 nights away while her son was in the capable hands of another. A mother "shouldn't" "want" to do these things.

And I always get a bit of a twinge when I hear statements from mothers like, "In 15 years, I've never spent a night away from my children." It's a bit of a badge of honor but also sacrifice. To not be in that club, well, frankly it makes me sometimes feel like I'm selfish or I must not care about my kid as much. I know these are false feelings, but they are the ones I hear whispering at night.

But. I've talked before about how I am desperately in love with my husband. We want to believe that this is a "given" and a "duh" in marriage, but I've seen enough marriages that prove this is not the case. But I do love Hubs, like love him, and it's always been extremely important to me for our children to witness this love. We love to be together. And while we love to parent together, this is different from "being" together. Relaxing together.

Hubs and I had not been on a Caribbean vacation where we didn't know another person since our honeymoon, 7 years ago.

Through good, hard work and a lot of support from my family (and, of course, my counselor), I put those "motherly guilt" statements aside. I worked to replace them with statements about how important it is for a husband and a wife to spend one-on-one time together, especially when both are working parents. How important it is for our son to see us enjoy spending time together. How important for our son to know he can spend time away from us, have a great time away from us in fact, and learn how that is okay and normal and good. How important for Munch to know that we can go away and come back.

And so we went. My biggest hurdles were the plane trips. I was terrified, despite all my logic-thinking. "Turbulence is normal." "Flying is a safe mode of travel." I was a mess both travel days, until wheels down in our final destination cities. My panic only heightened as we got closer to seeing Munch again--I wanted it so much, I was sure I wouldn't get to. But, of course, we did.

And it was wonderful seeing our Munch again. He was excited, we were excited. He had such fun at gramma and grampa's, and I thank my in-laws to high heaven for taking such amazing care of him--I never once worried about how he was doing, and that in itself is a blessing. We've had some transition bumps the past few days, like at night when he holds my hand and whispers over and over "Mommy, no go leave." Some meltdowns ("Mommy say no to me."). But, mostly all is back to normal. This is good for him to see, but also good for me to see.

I did it! I made it. It may seem strange to feel a sense of accomplishment after merely going on vacation, which I know we were truly blessed to do, but I do feel proud. Now, with a snowstorm bearing down, St. Lucia is a distant memory, almost as if it was a dream. Did I really lie on the beach for 7 straight hours a day? Did I wear my bathing suit and flip flops? Does the resort really exist?

They are memories Hubs and I will cherish, and we're committed to making vacations like these priorities in the coming years. And, similar to how I feel as a working mom, being away from and subsequently back with Munch has made me appreciate him all the more. The way he smiles and jumps 11 times in a row and plays with my hair and kisses our cats. I am thankful and grateful for the time away, and for coming back to my normal routine.
Mama’s Losin’ It

9 comments:

  1. Of course you had mixed feelings. And I'm so jealous—I mean happy for you!—that you had such a good trip. Being separated from your love bug is really hard. It is really important for spouses to do things together and connect as adults. And just as important for the young bloods to see that parents need grownup time and that Grandma lets you jump on the couch. When my mom comes to town, My Heart's Desire and I sneak off to a hotel for a night or two and it is awesome.

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    1. Agree agree agree. Separation is healthy!

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  2. It is hard to leave the little ones--even for sunshine and time with hubs. stopping by from mama kats. kelley at the road goes ever ever on

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    1. It definitely was hard--and it's probably good that it was hard! I felt accomplished and relief that I made it through. Thanks for reading.

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  3. I understand and appreciate the guilty feeling but taking care of you is important too. I'm glad you and your husband got to vacay where it is warm.

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    1. So true, Miriam! If I take care of me, I can take better care of Munch!

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  4. Well done for you! I have 6 kids and leaving them overnight gave me anxiety when the oldest 3 were little...after that, okay I had anxiety, but not as much and for totally other reasons...things like worrying that HeMan Hubby and I would have nothing to talk about without the kids as topics, or that with out their crazy antics and busy schedules to guide our days what on earth would we do with just ourselves?
    Happily we found that we still enjoyed each other's company and and had no problem finding things to talk about and to do...and I even managed to fly to Mexico and back without losing it...with the help of my friends Vodka and Cranberry!

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    1. Oh my goodness, 6 kids--God bless you! My one runs me ragged sometimes! Keeping the connection between parents as PEOPLE is SO critical to the overall happiness of the family. And you're right, what do you talk about when you don't have to say, "Did he poop today?" Haha.

      Flying will always be tough for me, and now without Munch it seems it's doubly bad! Just gritted my teeth and rubbed my worry stone!

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  5. Good for you!! It is so hard to leave them, I always have a hard time too. But he had a blast his grandparents and won't even remember that little blip of time you were away!

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