This past weekend, my husband and I experienced what I found to be a somewhat tough parenting “first”: Our first weekend away without the kids. Sure, my husband has been away overnight here and there, as have I, but one of us has always remained at home to hold down the fort. But when one of my best friends asked me to be her matron of honor in her out-of-state wedding, I really wanted my husband to come along. We were fortunate to have both sets of grandparents taking shifts with our sons, so we decided to take the opportunity to have a weekend away. Here’s a play-by-play of how being away from our kids together affected me:
Stage 1: Paranoia
I work part-time with flexible hours, and take on almost all of the day-to-day needs of our boys. If an emergency arises with the kids, I’m the front line. I’ve grown used to basically feeling like I’m “on-call” 24/7 (like most parents!), and I’ve felt this way for five years now. So to suddenly find myself in the car, headed north with just my husband, was somewhat unnerving. Shouldn’t I be watching someone? Opening a juice box? Cutting some grapes? Something? Decide perhaps I’m not cut out for weekends away.
Stage 2: Panic
It’s now 9 p.m., and we’ve been at our destination for a little over 3 hours. The non-parents are out buying wine and beer and planning a night of fun before the wedding. I’m pacing the dark parking lot, nearly in tears. My five-year-old wants to say goodnight over Facetime and there’s almost no cell signal at all in the mountains. I talk to him on the hotel phone. I’m crushed. Vow to never…ever…again leave the children. Decide that the boys will attend college in-state so I can tuck them in every night for the rest. of. their. lives.
Stage 3: Cautious Optimism, a.k.a. “Maybe the boys can go out-of state for college, but not out of New England”
My five-year-old finally goes to sleep (as reported by the grandparents) after I email him a “goodnight” video. I later discover he sleeps with my mom’s cellphone on his pillow with the video on the screen “because it’s kind of like having mommy here with me”. Tear!!! The two-year-old has been asleep for quite some time now. No one is crying for me. I start to cheer up. My husband and I wander over to the bride’s cabin (we’re staying at a resort on Lake George) with a bottle of wine and hang out with the wedding party. It’s, dare I say, fun. We reminisce about the college years, and the bride’s friend practices her piano-playing skills while we’re all giggly.
Stage 4: Finally! Enjoyment of being an adult again!
I wake up in the morning, and it’s not because someone is screaming for breakfast at 6 a.m. It is, however, because I need to get to the wedding party’s hair appointment, but still- I sleep in until 7:45. I enjoy a cup of coffee alone. No one asks me to turn on Thomas the Train. No one cries that they decided they wanted toast, not cereal!! I head back to the bride’s cabin for hair and make up. My husband goes for a run on a trail by the lake alone– without the jogging stroller. Later on, at the wedding, we’re fancy!!! I don’t for one second worry that someone will grab my dress with dirty hands and ruin it. My husband wears a white shirt and it stays white. We eat dinner sitting down (the whole time!) and have adult conversations. It’s kind of a big deal.
Stage 5: Ready to Go Home Again
The wedding draws to a close. I find myself thinking “Ohhhh the kids would have loved these centerpieces. And these favors. And look! A family heading to the beach at Lake George!” I miss the kids, and I’m eager to return to them. We had a great time, but I’m ready to go back. When we get home, the kids are already in bed. I’m a little relieved that my five-year-old ends up waking up at 1 am. He sleepily asks if the birds from Cinderella did my fancy up-do. The next morning, I happily give them favors from the wedding and hear their tales of what they’ve been up to (The aquarium! Pumpkintown! Dinner in a restaurant! Movies!). The grandparents deserve medals of bravery for the activities they successfully pulled off in our absence.
Overall? I’d say our first weekend away went pretty smoothly. It’s not something I want to do often, because I really, really missed the kids, but it was good to know they were okay, and we were, too. We’re currently discussing a possible 2nd weekend away next summer, but for now, I’m happy to include the boys in our fun. Thanks to the grandmas and grandpas who made this possible!