Vacation Tales to Tell: It's All About Me
While we were Outside (yes, we in AK call the rest of the country "Outside" or "the Lower 48." I don't know where Hawai'i falls in there. Sorry.) last month, I had the opportunity to take a vacation within a vacation. My in-laws were kind enough to keep my kids happy and healthy while I took a five day jaunt to the East Coast to visit my friend Sharron.
Sharron and I have known each other since college up in Fairbanks. We actually lived together in a one room cabin for seven months between the time I returned from a long field season and the time I took a job in Wyoming (see the ferret posts). We get along really well, understand each other the way few people do, and put up with each other's crazies (ok, mostly HER crazies, but I digress). We talk on the phone at least one a week and try to visit as often as our lives allow. It had been almost four years since our last visit and it was time to get together.
So I jetted off to the other side of the country. With each successive plane change, I felt the weight of parenting slough from my shoulders like so much dry, flaky skin. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my children to pieces; they are two of the small handful of people in this world I would kill or die for. But being Mommy 24/7/365 wears on you. Sure, they're old enough to not require eyes-on watching, and they both go to school so I have my kid-free days, but even when they aren't in the room or house, I'm still on call to any request for this and that, a middle of the night cry of despair, or a phone call from the school to pick up a pukey child. The only way to get a break is to have us in different states.
I landed after midnight pumped with enthusiasm about seeing Sharron and beat from a long trip. Sharron, bless her heart, had worked that day and had been up since the crack of dawn, but she was just as excited to see me as I was to see her. We chatted nonstop as she drove us back to her house and we stayed up until after 2a.m. talking. Finally exhausted, we passed out.
The next few days were filled with some catching up (we talk all the time, so it's not like we didn't know what was happening in each other's lives), but mostly just hanging out, trekking into DC, watching a couple of newly released movies, and more chatting about anything that came to mind. No one called me Mom. I called my kids once to say hello, and I did think about them, but knowing they were safe and happy 3,000 miles away, I was able to find me again. Ah, Cathy. I'd missed her.
There are things I do at home that are for me and me alone, but the mom-ness is always there. Taking these few days to reconnect with who I was, and who I am aside from Mom, was refreshing. I feel renewed now. Like someone took a big loofah and scrubbed off all the accumulated dead weight I was carrying around. I'm tingly and shiny, ready to get back to my reality.
We all benefit from my periodic escapes. My kids got a chance to do things without me hovering, and I was able to relax and enjoy my friend without wondering if the quiet in the next room meant someone was doing something they shouldn't. A win-win for all.
For those of you who don't think you can or should take time away from the kids, I say do it. As soon as you are able. You AND the kids will appreciate the break. You'll return from your vacation all shiny and ready to jump back into the fray. And hey, who doesn't like to be shiny?