Last year my husband and I had a unique opportunity to go on the vacation of a lifetime. We had two free roundtrip airfare to anywhere in the world! We had all the googly eyes. We were scouring the globe trying to figure out where we wanted to go. The only caveat? We wanted to go by ourselves and leave our 18 month old at home with Grandma. As a stay at home mom who spends every waking moment with this girl, I had no idea how I would possibly survive ten days without her. OH, THE MOM GUILT. All the anxiety. All the fear. All the “what-ifs.” The excitement of the vacation quickly turned to dread.
BUT. Everything was in place and I could not turn down this opportunity. My mom was ready and willing to stay at our house and care for our daughter for the duration of the trip. We had the free tickets. We had decided where we wanted to go. The excitement was creeping back in. My mantra: “People do this all the time.” I must have repeated that to myself a thousand times in the coming months.
A few weeks before we left, I told my husband that if it weren’t for us already having booked all our accommodations, I would cancel the entire trip. I wanted to cancel a 10 day Mediterranean cruise…let that sink in. This is how absolutely insane motherhood can make you. I had visions of the cruise staff lowering me down in a dinghy, paddling myself to a foreign shore and flying home by myself, leaving my husband to finish the trip alone. I’ll pause for a moment while you try to stop laughing at my neurosis.
The day we left was a beautiful September morning, thankfully. I really feel that the beauty of that morning eased my anxiety. After a gazillion hugs and kisses, it was time to go. Now here is the real miracle and God’s honest truth…I was FINE. Like, totally fine. I didn’t even cry! My husband was on high alert and ready for me to bail at any given moment. I surprised us both.
We went on to have the most amazing, breathtaking, romantic, carefree vacation that either of us could have ever imagined. Sure, we thought about our daughter throughout the day and we spoke of missing her and how we couldn’t wait to squeeze her again. But it didn’t intrude on our vacation. It didn’t stop us from enjoying every beautiful moment that we had on that trip. The chef-prepared meals enjoyed at our leisure, the mid-day naps laying on the back deck of the cruise ship, the uninterrupted conversations, the day drinks (let’s be honest)…it was all made infinitely better knowing that we had our baby girl to go home to when it was all over.
Communication was limited due to being on a cruise ship, but we never had to go more than a day without at least a text. We would FaceTime when we had wifi. My mom sent us pictures often. She assured us every day that our girl was doing great and we had nothing to worry about. And much to my dismay, she wasn’t even getting much use out of my seven page hand-written guide on EXACTLY how to care for my daughter every second of every day. I worked really hard on that.
Last month we went on our second child-free vacation. It was SO much easier the second time, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have some anxiety and fear. And we still couldn’t wait to get home and kiss her face off.
I’m telling you all of this in hopes that it can help ease the mind of a mama somewhere out there who desperately needs some time alone with her husband and some time off from being mommy 24/7. I know that it’s not everybody’s thing. But if it is, and you don’t think you can do it…trust me, YOU CAN. And you will have the loveliest time.
So tell me, when it comes to leaving your kids for an extended period of time, are you:
Packing your bags as fast as you can,
Crying in the closet with a box of chocolates just thinking about it?