A strange thing happened to me this past week: I went on a working vacation to the Bahamas and didn’t miss my children.
Sure, I thought about them 24-7 how much my 5-year-old would love the Nemo-like fish I discovered near my resort, or the way in which my 2-year-old would be in heaven if given the chance to run free on miles upon miles of uninterrupted beach. I thought of my husband, too, and how nice it would be to share a bottle of complementary Champagne and the fresh, chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to my door daily at 6 p.m.
I missed the boys’ sweet little giggles and the way in which they cuddle during storytime. I missed hearing about my older one’s day at school who he played with at recess and how he progressed from two hands to one on the monkey bars and I missed my little guy wandering the house yelling, ”Fuck! Fuck!” (it’s how he pronounces ”truck” honest!).
But I also thought about my freedom, and how nice it was to wake up quietly, privately, without needing to get breakfast on the table for my starving children (how can sleep induce so much hunger?). Or without having to negotiate which kid gets to watch which TV show (and for how long). And without that panic-inducing realization that if we don’t get dressed and out of the door in the next 10 minutes we’ll miss that tiny window of opportunity in which to actually do something before having to rush home for naptime (if my little guy falls asleep for even five minutes in the car, we’re screwed for the rest of the day).
What amazed me is how I love my kids more than life itself, how I thought about them all day long, and yet I was fine being away from them. Maybe it’s because I knew they were in good hands, or because I so desperately needed some ”me” time, but the separation was good for all of us. (I have to admit, though, that the anticipation nearly killed me. The guilt!)
Most women aren’t as lucky as I am to have the chance to get away like that childcare is obviously a huge issue, as is money but I was blessed to be presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the high life, all for the sake of ”research” (no, really, I’m writing a story about the resort). It was my own mother who told me not to be stupid, to seize the moment and to make it happen (she said I’d remember this trip forever and that my kids would have no memory of me being gone).
And she was right. I’ve been home for less than 24 hours but I already feel rejuvenated, calmer, nicer. Which, at the end of they day, makes me a better mother.
(Photo: Shawna Cohen)