My husband and I escaped to Mexico on vacation for four days and three nights for the first time in twelve years. My oldest son is nine, so that gives you some perspective. That vacation was the smartest thing that we have done since we had kids.
As parents, we know that our kids come first almost all of the time from the moment they become part of our lives. As moms, I think we tend to take on even more. We are less likely to take time for ourselves, and our lives become all about everyone else – kids, spouse, work, home, ….
As you spend every waking moment (or at least most of them), doing things for other people, it’s easy to lose yourself, to lose the “us” in your relationship, and slowly, to lose the joy that you get from the life that you have always wanted in some way. You get angry, frustrated, and even a little hopeless.
Ironically, I think that I had reached that point over the last few months. My husband changed jobs and it was messing with our schedule and my plans. I was frustrated all the time and constantly distracted. The only thing that I really enjoyed was my job, and while I busted my hump for my kiddos, I didn’t always want to actually spend time with them. I was drinking a glass of wine (or two or three) every night. I was overwhelmed and on edge and stuck.
And then this trip happened. We were literally forced into it. My husband’s best friend got married in Cancun this past weekend, and we had to be there. It was kid-free, and the bride and groom’s goal was that we would all be able to enjoy ourselves. I won’t go into the disaster that was getting childcare for the weekend after a few sitters fell through, but on Thursday, when our Uber picked us up at 6am – with me in tears and terrified – and my 34-year old brother with no kids in charge, I wanted nothing more than to cancel. I was leaving my kids and going to a different country. I hadn’t prepacked lunches. I didn’t know if they would get sick. Clothes weren’t ready for the weekend. What kind of mother was I????
Then, we slowly fell into the trip. By Thursday night, I knew that everything was ok at home. I just had to let go. Who cares if they stayed up late one or two nights? Who cares if they aren’t eating the dinners that I had planned for? My kids had more fun with Uncle Alex and Whitney (since his amazing girlfriend pitched in too) then they would have ever had with us.
And, my husband and I got to rediscover ourselves and each other. We got to talk again about nothing for the first time in years. We got to sleep in until – wait for it – 8am – with no interruptions three mornings in a row. I went to the spa and sat by the pool to read cheesy books, and he got to play golf and nap to his heart’s content. We ate too much and drank too much. It was heavenly.
More importantly, I learned something about parenthood. A lesson that took nine years to figure out but may have saved me from years of unhealthy habits and anger and hurt. I learned that you are allowed to leave your kids to focus on you and your adult relationships.
Kid-free time is critical on this crazy journey where we strive to survive parenthood intact. Being parents makes us grow, but we can’t be who we want to be to our kids if we can’t remember who we are independently. Remember not to lose yourself or you can’t help your little ones find who they are. You must lead by example.