My husband Steve gave me my 40th birthday present last night - he surprised me with a trip to Bermuda. We leave on Thursday morning, and will spend four days right on the water, enjoying the sun and relaxing. The kids are staying with my parents for the week - I dropped them off this morning. I am beside myself with excitement - Steve and I haven't been away alone together on vacation in many, many years. It is an extravagance for us ... but this year is also our 10th wedding anniversary, so we're splurging.
I have two days home here without the kids before we leave. I don't know quite what to do with myself. I spent the first hour or so walking around my house in a daze - no little hands pawing at me, no requests for juice, nobody was following me from room to room. I'm not peppered constantly with unanswerable questions. I made jewelry, and didn't have to get up every four minutes or so to break up a fight or look for a lost toy. I had a lovely trip to the post office.
I got my hair done. My hair done! Instead of hovering over my sink haphazardly trimming my bangs with the kitchen scissors, I had my scalp massaged. I went to Target (man, I love me some Target) and picked out some nicer clothes for the trip. And by nicer I mean pants and shorts without drawstring waistlines and shirts without stains. I found a long flowy skirt and a cute pair of sandals. I tried everything on, without a kid opening the door to the changing room and randomly exposing me to people. I didn't have to worry about Finn crawling under the changing stall and horrifying the woman next to me. I luxuriated in making decisions about what to buy. I perused the book aisle for an hour. I saw a Mom there negotiating her kids through the toy aisle. She looked exhausted. I felt this strange compulsion to go up to her and say "Hey - I have two small kids, too - I'm not usually this relaxed!".
Tonight Steve and I had a quiet dinner at home, just the two of us. We watched whatever we wanted on TV. We finished sentences. We finished thoughts. We could wander off and do what we wanted, without having those quiet negotiations at every step: you want dishes or bath time? if you put them to bed I'll tidy up the kitchen. We sat on the porch after dinner and watched the sunset. We chatted.
I feel completely untethered. I can't remember the last time I could just dart out of my house to do an errand - no fumbling for kids' shoes, diaper changing or bargaining endlessly to get out the door.
I keep waiting for the guilt to show up - a vague feeling of uneasiness that I shouldn't be enjoying this time so much. That I'm supposed to miss them unspeakably, and be worried that they will be too homesick, get a sunburn or a tummy ache and I'm not there to comfort them.
But you know what? It isn't there... the guilt isn't there. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. I know they are safe. I know they are happy. They adore my parents and will spend 7 days being showered with attention the likes of which they can't get full time around here. I am wallowing in this time, because it is precious. I don't want to waste it feeling badly that I'm not with them. Right now, it just feels too good to be free. Towards the end of the week, I will wallow in the fact that I miss them... it will feel good to miss them, because it will make being together again feel special. For me and for them. Too often we get so used to each other that we all kind of disappear a little. I caught myself looking wistfully at a picture of them on the refrigerator - a picture I see a hundred times everyday and don't even notice.
So while my husband and I will have some time to reconnect, the kids and I will too. Because we will miss each other - a lot - and when I get back a normal day will feel that much sweeter.