I’m writing this post from Hawaii where I am sitting on a beach—without my kids. To be honest, I didn’t want to come. Of course, I love spending time with my husband, but I hate leaving my girls. Everyone talks about how great it is to “get away,” but as I was packing for this trip I kept thinking, “I don’t want to get away. I really like this life.”
Fast forward to day six of Hawaii, and I realize this very insight is one of many reasons why it was good for me to come. I need to be reminded how much I like my life. It is easy to start thinking that packing lunches, reviewing times tables, and driving to soccer practice is mundane and tedious. But from where I’m sitting right now, it seems a privilege.
There are people who depend on me to hold their world together. I have a daily chance to make a childhood and an adolescence better—to cook meals for my children, listen to them talk about their days, help them find the shirt for Red Ribbon week or the lost library book. The babysitter is probably doing a pretty good job helping with the class project or cheering at the soccer games, but I like being the one to do those things.
And since I’ve been away, I sense that my girls feel this, too. They don’t want anyone else to do these things for them. As one daughter said in a recent text, “We really miss you guys.” I think she means it.
As much as this trip gives me a renewed perspective on how much I like my life, I hope my girls are reminded how much they like me in it. Adolescence (if you don’t know this yet) is a tricky, prickly time. My girls often roll their eyes or get in a huff when I say things like, “Your skirt is too short. You need to change,” or “No, I’m not paying for that.” I know I might be reading a lot into their brief text messages, but there is an element of tenderness from them right now that I don’t always feel.
It is also monumentally important to be alone with my husband. We haven’t had alone time like this since way back in B.C. (Before Children). In our regular life, date night conversations are dominated by concerns for our girls. But when you are alone for six days and counting, there is also time to talk about other really important things—like the book my husband is reading or how much we like Thai food.
We’ve talked about whom we would cast in a modern remake of Charade, and, seriously, what if there really was another world living under the ocean?! Some nights it has felt like we are dating again, and I’m very happy to say I still like him. I think he still likes me, too. I admit I’m not the most brilliant conversationalist, and I have yet to go past my waist in ocean water, but I laugh at all of his jokes and have been to the beach exercise class with him every morning. We connect with each other on a new level after being together for a long, uninterrupted time.
Another gift of this trip is the rare chance for autonomy. Since the start of motherhood, sharing the world with my children has been my everything. But when they aren’t with me to see the whales, search for shells, or try the guava butter, I am left to ask myself a most uncommon question: What is it that I want to do today?
Each answer is an interesting little discovery. I want to see the giant sea turtles and skip the luau. I like bike riding to a Banyan tree and don’t care for driving the rental car with the top down. It feels important to recognize that while I love being a mom, I am also a person. This trip is giving me a chance to remember that.
In short, what was I thinking? The next time I’m offered a getaway, instead of complaining, I should make a paper chain and count the days. Yes, it is hard to leave, but distance from the day-to-day offers valuable gifts. Among them can be renewed appreciation for your life, the people in it, and even for yourself.
In case I forget this once I get home, I’m recording this important note to self: say yes to Hawaii and other chances you may have in the midst of motherhood to step back and get perspective. It makes everything matter even more.
**Vacations like Hawaii aren’t possible for every family, but, at Power of Moms, we do believe that it’s important for moms to get some time away. Listen to our podcast “How to Run Away” if you need some ideas for close-to-home opportunities for a rejuvenating break.
Question: What ways have you found to take a break from your regular routine? What benefits do you get from doing so?
Challenge: Schedule some special form of alone or couple time in the next three months. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by the hassles or the guilt—just do it!
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Amanda Lewis.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Julie Finlayson.