Jul 10 2012
Last week, my husband and I spent our first night away from Baby Boy… for four nights… in a different country. Early Monday morning, I held it together while I watched the crack of light grow smaller as our garage door closed. Feeling equal parts fretfulness and guilt, I only teared up a little. Once we arrived at the air port, that dissolved among all the hustle and bustle. For four glorious days, there was no feeding scheduling, no diaper washing, and no bottle washing, which I have officially deemed the worst baby related task. Though I thoroughly expected to be heartbroken and homesick by the trip’s end, I found myself wishing for just one more day. I missed him, sure, but one more day of not worrying about anything but sunscreen application sounded fantastic.
Then I felt a little guilty. Okay… A LOT guilty.
In fact, there were many moments tinged with guilt simply because I had such a good time. I didn’t consciously recognize it as guilt until, when telling a friend about it afterward, she expressed that same “guilt” the first time she vacationed without her child. I realized then that “guilt” was the perfect label. Around this time, another person chimed in along with this friend to vocalize how important away time is for parents.
It’s hard to know what kind of parent you will be. The way I viewed myself as a parent five years ago is nothing like I actually am. For starters, I thought I’d never be the kind of gal who dreamed of staying at home with her little one and soaking up all the firsts. Shoulder pads and career all the way for me, Mister. However, I do dream of it now on a very deep, very constant level. I also thought that I’d want to be with him every.second.of.every.minute. I realize now that only insane people would want that, and that is probably the very source of their insanity. Sometimes a trip to Target with a friend or by yourself is just the one hour break you need to remember who you are and all the reasons you are thankful for your life.
It’s so, so important to remember who you are. Life can be so busy (and difficult) at times that it dilutes our identity, and to me, maintaining my own identity is a gift to both my son and me. I’m not declaring myself to be all that and a bag of chips. Not even a little. In fact, I think that setting an example of remaining true to yourself even though you are NOT all that and a bag of chips is far more important. That concept is the gift.
In years to come, my goal is to maintain a healthy balance of family vacations and parent-only trips. Baby Boy is teething now and superscooting everywhere. Thanks to a little time away, my source of soothe and chase is replenished, and my mental feet are firmly planted. I remember who I am– all of me.