I was eagerly counting down the hours until I could finally leave. Even though my trip to Boston was only for a day and a half, it was a long time coming. I was ready. It was the first time in 6 ½ years that I would be flying solo. Just me. No kids. Alone on a train reading a trashy celebrity magazine and relishing in the silence around me. Sure, my seat mate and other passengers would be talking, snoring and eating loudly. But to me, it would be sweet silence.
When I told friends and family members that I was finally getting away for a few days without my three children and husband, everyone's response was immediate and similar.
"Good for you!"
"It's about time!"
"You deserve it!"
The general consensus was that I was due some time away from my children. My brain needed a rest from planning every little detail of my family's daily activities. Equally important was the space and flexibility I needed to give my husband to feed (he proclaimed, "pancakes for dinner!" a few hours before I left) and take care of our children. He deserved a break from my dictating or second-guessing his parental choices. Leaving was going to be a lot more difficult than I thought.
As I prepared for my departure, I put on some pretty earrings and my oldest immediately asked me, "Mama, why did you put those things in your ear?" He's clearly not used to seeing me wearing sparkly things. I broke out my expensive handbag that I rarely use because I'm usually carrying around a canvas bag filled with snacks, sippy cups, hand sanitizer and wet wipes. And I put on my wedding ring again because I knew my hands wouldn't be constantly submerged in water or digging around the cluttered backseat of our car looking for lost action figures or stuffed animals.
The time to leave had arrived and whatever minor feelings of unease I had about leaving my children was gone. I wasn't abandoning them in their time of need. I had forgotten to show my husband how to comb Nina's hair, but that was OK. My daughter would be fine for two days with her hair looking like a hot mess. I wasn't missing anyone's birthday or special extracurricular event. No fevers, stomach bugs or ailments. They were in the capable hands of my husband, who thankfully shows his unwavering support and understanding whenever it's clear that Mama desperately needs a time out.
But before I felt completely worn down and in dire need of some time away from my kids, the only desperation I felt was the desire to have children. I struggled with infertility and miscarriages for over five years before I finally became pregnant. Now I have three beautiful and healthy children. Even after shedding many tears and enduring so much pain and fear, I still need to leave my babies every now and then because I am human. I need time for myself to be someone other than just Mama. Scheduling this time is also a valuable test and lesson for me on learning how to let go. I can't be there all the time with my children, making sure that they are groomed a certain way, that they eat this, wear that, or go to bed at a certain time. I can't always have control over them, nor would I want to have that control for the rest of their lives. My getting away from being a control freak and letting my husband shine as the truly amazing caregiver that he is, is beneficial to all parties involved.
My trip to Boston was short, but very sweet. I spent some quality time with my sisters, enjoyed cocktails for brunch after getting my nails done, partied until the very respectable hour of 11:30, and woke up extremely late the next morning. I felt lighter, rested and relaxed. But now that I've gotten a taste for this, I might have to repeat this mini-vacation every year! What works best for me and my family is that in order to be truly present, sane and really there for my children, my husband and myself, I need to set aside time just for me.
Another added benefit is returning home to a heartwarming welcome. Who doesn't like to be missed when they go away, if only for a few days? "Mama, you're here!" Isaiah, Joel, and Nina scream when I walk through the door. I spread my arms wide as they race towards me to give me a running hug and I tell them, "Yes, I'm here." Always.