Any time my husband has an opportunity to get away, without hesitation, I tell him to go. It does not happen often, but when it does, I recognize the fact that he could use some time away and he deserves that time away. There is just something about hanging with old friends that reminds you of the person you once were, and even sometimes makes you appreciate the person you have grown into. I recognize the great value in a brief period of time where the focus is not on being a parent or a spouse. So when the invitation arises for a baseball game, a guys’ trip to Miami or the Poconos, or, before everyone got married, a bachelor party, he has my full-fledged support. He figures out his travel plans and returns, refreshed (or exhausted, depending upon the trip) and excited to see his family, who shower him with hugs and nonstop chattering.
This spring, a girlfriend from graduate school invited me to Ireland. She is turning 40 this year and, before she begins an exciting adventure with her family, she rented a house for a long weekend and invited a small group of her girlfriends to join her and celebrate. Immediately, there were a flurry of group emails, excitedly discussing things to do and places to visit. And from me? Radio silence.
My girlfriend recognized that the trip would be a long shot for me. I have regretfully declined other girls’ weekends over the years. She made it clear that there was no pressure on me to go but that she would love it if I could. Since we had kids, the bulk of my infrequent solo traveling has been for family obligations, with an occasional night in New York, often narrowly tailored by me to limit my time away from home.
I mentioned the possibility in passing to my husband but I never gave it serious consideration. I had lots of reasons in my head about why it made no sense to go. September is a busy month. My daughter was starting kindergarten. Both kids have soccer practice during the week and weekend activities. We had summer travel plans and a family wedding away in October. I had not budgeted for it. At all times, I assumed I was not going, although I never formally declined.
As time passed, and we made it through our crazy summer, as I found that I was somehow, for now, making work work (knock on something), I wondered if it was even still possible to go. I looked at tickets and surprisingly found it would cost less than I expected.
Shortly thereafter, my husband and I had a day date (!!!) and while driving and talking about all sorts of topics which only can occur kid-free, I mentioned the trip again. Without hesitation, he said, “Go if you want to go.”
I STILL did not commit.
Why is it so hard to do something just for me? Why do I feel badly about leaving my family, even with my husband’s blessing? I have a more than capable, wonderful spouse who certainly handles whatever gets thrown at him when I am away.
I recognize that our family runs most smoothly when we are both here. But my children are 8 and 5 years old. We are not deep in the trenches of baby chaos – we made it to the other side. We have our new routine, and for the most part, thank goodness, it works.
Once I committed to the trip in my head, I looked into flights, trying to minimize my time away. My husband was not asking me to return as early as possible. I felt like I should get home to my family, ignoring the fact that I was traveling to Europe, a place I have not been since my honeymoon. I have never even used the passport I obtained in my married name. Certainly, there is no other international trip looming in my foreseeable future.
So I took a deep breath and signed on for an extra night. I still cannot believe I am going, that I have committed to this amazing opportunity, that I am focusing just on me. I look forward to this new adventure and then returning to my little corner of the world, renewed, refreshed, appreciative, and a better version of myself.