I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have the experience to take a vacation alone with my husband, leaving behind our 16-month-old toddler and 4-year-old. We traveled to Hawaii three weeks ago and I wrote this post as I was experiencing it. This was our first time leaving Ezra with someone other than my husband and I. While traveling without children is SO much easier, the experience has it’s challenges. This is my experience taking a much-needed and amazing vacation with my husband.
You spend countless hours cleaning, organizing, labeling everything for caregivers. From Advil to emergency information to making sure the laundry is 100% caught up, preparation takes hours and a significant amount of brain capacity. You are Type A, so the “Hawaii trip kid info” document was very very long and detailed, something your caregivers found a bit overwhelming. Leaving the kids feels so wrong in every way, so preparing feels like it somehow helps make it ok.
Up until the moment you leave your children, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be real. You plan and pack and clean and label and move about the house accomplishing things, but to actually leave your children for a week in the care of others just seems impossible
With that said, packing can be done in an hour or less if laundry is caught up. You constantly check your bags thinking you must have forgot something because it just feels so easy.
You go through the motions of the day, driving to the airport, checking your bag, going through security. You keep thinking you forgot something. You look down and see you have your purse and your carry-on. You realize that you actually have all you need at that moment even though you feel like you forgot half of yourself at home.
You see a mom, dad, 2 or 3-year-old boy and a new baby in a Baby Bjorn and you can’t help but miss your kids. While you watch them struggle through security and struggle to get all packed back up after they go through and you see the mom apologizing over and over for her family and how long things take, you still have a longing to be traveling with your kids.
You know deep inside that this vacation is something you need. Your body needs the break. Your mind needs the break. You need to sleep through the night. You need a long breakfast and coffee date with your husband while you look at the beautiful ocean. You get to speak with one another uninterrupted. It’s a miracle. You need a bit of peace. But you also realize quickly just how much you need and miss those tiny people. You haven’t even left your city yet and your appreciation for your life is growing stronger.
You think about where you will take your children on your next family vacation. You see a 5-year-old boy sitting with his grandma. You feel a sense of peace watching them together knowing that your boys are also with grandma and having moments of loving fun. But you also wish your 4-year-old was with you asking questions, enjoying the travel experience.
You board the plane and sit down. You just sit. No one needs a thing. It all feels so light. So easy.
As you sit you wonder what time it is and what your children are doing at this moment. Ezra is napping at school, more than likely. Bodhi is doing his afternoon work cycle. Both will be picked up in another hour by their grandparents. They will go to dinner at a restaurant and will head home for bath and bedtime. Ezra still doesn’t know what is going to happen and it breaks your heart. You wish you could tell him you will be back soon. You hope he will be ok and adjust well. But it makes you incredibly sad to think of him wondering where you are.
You are simultaneously sad and grateful. Grateful that you have parents who will take loving care of your children and allow you to get the respite you need. You will be a better mother, wife, daughter granddaughter, friend, neighbor and writer when you return. You will appreciate the life you have been given.
And while nothing beats an ocean view, you will be so thankful for your messy home, your busy bedroom, your toy-filled bath tub, the view of your neighbor’s garage from your front porch and the normalcy of your life. The mundane will feel good again.
I know all of this because I’ve done this before, never for this long or this far away, but I know. I know that this missing, this yearning to be with your children and to be back home is a good thing. It means you are doing exactly what you need to do. You are recharging so that you can again appreciate and be thankful for the life you have, the people you have and all of the beauty in the mundane everyday moments in this season of life as two busy parents with even busier children with too many commitments, too many unanswered emails, too many work projects, too many social engagements, not enough time and a heart full of love, all of the cuddles in the world, belly laughter, tickles and a busy house full of messy joy.
Your vacation goes off without a hitch. You enjoy a sunset cruise, sunrise on a mountain top next to a dormant volcano, hours and hours at the beach and pool, amazing food and drinks. Coffee. In peace. And when your vacation ends, you are ready. So ready. It’s time for life to be normal again. It’s time to be “on” all day every day until your next vacation.
Vacation reminds you of who you are. It reminds you to sit sometimes. It reminds you that you really really like your husband. And while the luxuries and peaceful moments of vacation are just so necessary sometimes, it reminds you of exactly where you need to be again. Home. Home with your baby boys.