Then we veered into the inevitable talk about raising kids (he has 7 kids and is in the throws of all young ages!) All this reminiscing got my mind going.
Such a key part of parenting well is having a good marriage. Part of having a good marriage is making time for the two of you to be alone, even if it doesn't seem convenient. Time alone, it's a good thing to pursue.
Yesterday at Walgreens, my favorite checkout lady and friend, Karen, asked how school was going for my kids. I said I barely knew because I got them started in school then immediately left for a week! Her quick and usual wise response was "and what a growing experience for your kids to get through that alone" (meant in the best way possible). That was nice to hear because I did have one small twinge of doubt about leaving, but it was truly the only possible time for us to get away. Yes I had guilt about missing Back to School night for one of them, but my fabulous friend went in my place and all was well. We moms are notorious for feeling guilt no matter what we decide! But if we "feed" our marriage, we fuel our parenting as well.
Knowing this need to get away, along with reliving "little kid days" with my hair guy took me back (humor me and follow the path of my mind) to days when my girls were all little and sometimes I just needed a break! Like a real "get away" break. I LOVED being a mom of little girls, but I will also be honest and say that there were times if I didn't get away I thought I'd go crazy....yes, I LOVE me some alone time....which is rare at that stage of life. I used to dream of a Land called NOONENEEDSMOM. Of course I loved and wanted to be needed, but just for a day?! Maybe two? No one needs anything? Doesn't that sound dreeeaaaammmmyyy?
I happen to have a husband who believes in the premise "if mama ain't happy nobody's happy". But back in those days he took it a step further (being a true man) and actually suggested and helped make it happen! NO, he wasn't trying to get rid of me (I don't think). He truly knew everyone's life would be more peaceful if I got those precious few moments of ME time to regroup. Wives everywhere burned in jealousy when they realized I had a man who would send me on a trip and offer to take care of the kids (just kidding). But there's also another element to this concept. Some women may have been jealous for alone time (who knows), or judged me for leaving my kids, OR maybe even had a husband just as willing. But sometimes great moms are also very uncomfortable to let things fall into the hands of dad tactics, like the kids won't survive without mom there. I took a risk back in the day and let him try it. Guess what? Everyone survived. Was it different? Yes. Was it the way I did things? No. Did everyone miss me and appreciate me? Yes. Did they have fun without me? Yes. They even made fun dad memories that wouldn't have happened otherwise.
Are you in this position and wishing for some time away? Are you thinking about forwarding this blog to your husband to give him a clue? (hee hee) Take these 5 points into consideration.
1. Pick a fabuously thoughtful husband. If it's too late for that, then
2. Tell him some benefit that he will receive by you getting away. If you're happy, he'll be happier. It's not manipulation, it's just true!
3. NOW, don't NAG him about how he does things while you're gone. (yes if you forward this to him, I meant for him to see this point). Let dad be dad no matter how preposterous things can be (ha). You can go into any bookstore and find biographies of children who survived horrifying conditions growing up. People are very resilient. The kids will survive if nap time is skipped or cookies are served for dinner. My own kids memories of "dad-cations"? They loved using only paper products. Therefore no dishes to do. They also survived a tactic that I thought was ludicrous and unfair, (but rather funny). For dad-survival, by day two my husband eliminated all questions. If you have small children, you know that is the majority of conversation. He was great fun, did lots of stuff with them, took fabulous care of them, but just couldn't handle the barrage of conversation and questions. "Ut! Was that a question? Remember no questions." Guess what? They aren't scarred. They barely remember. The point is, I was ALONE and the kids were bonding with their manly dad.
4. Now before you leave, prepare yourself to deal with the guilt you will feel upon departure. Motherhood is one big guilt trip after another. My memory is of my family driving me to the airport when I went to stay with my sister in D.C. The kids were all little. I looked at them in the backseat and my quietest one was just sitting there silently with tears rolling down her sweet cheeks. STAB ME IN THE HEART. I said goodbye, got inside the airport and called my friend. I said, "I need you to tell me right now that I'm not a bad mother and that it's ok to go on this trip." My wise friend said "You are teaching your girls to go visit each other one day and to take care of themselves too". What a good friend. I went.
5. When you get back, you will be ready for the Land of EVERYONENEEDSMOM. Be extra nice about everything, be nice to your husband, and maybe just maybe, no one will mind if you do it again!
For women who don't have this option, my heart goes out to you. Truly. I've been humorous in this blog, but I have so much respect for women who parent alone. I hope and pray for creative solutions for you. Maybe two moms can swap time with each others kids to allow alone time. This is an area we could perhaps be more sensitive to others. Maybe watch for moms who need time and offer services ourselves. Just a thought. Everyone is entitled to a little peace, quiet and rest. I'm thankful. And mentally wondering who I need to help.