With or without them

I love my kids. Love with a capital L.

Even when they’re being bad they are so good. And they’re funny and charming and smart. And when I’m with them it’s all I can do not to eat them up.

Trouble squared. What's not to love?

But a funny thing happens to my brain when I’m with them all the time. Not funny haha either. It shrinks. Switches over to the left and forces me to be analytical and fearful and worried. Did I pack enough for their lunches? Did I send the forms for school? What will they eat for dinner? Is there enough time to do homework before bed? And at the end of any given day I’m exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Spent.

I’m only partially able to leave that behind when I travel with them.  The fears, funny enough, are a bit less on the road.  We’ve got a plan in most cases and know where we want to be when, how we’ll get there, why we’re going, what we want to see.  With that settled, it’s easier to focus on the smaller fears. Did we bring enough money? Will E be able to sleep without his music? Will Cam keep me up with his snores? Why won’t they stop yelling?

When I travel without them, it all disappears and the silence, at first deafening,  is eventually calming and comfortable. The lack of conversation at dinner takes getting used to, but I do. I think more.

I yell less. I’m introspective and I breathe. I feel closer to myself at those times. More like the girl I feel I am than the mom I need to be.

And it never fails that every time I do it, I am a better person when I return.

I don’t believe life was meant to be given over to the ones you love. It was meant to be shared. You do no one a service when you give away everything you are, exhausting your emotional supply in the name of mommy martyrdom. My trips away aren’t just a benefit to me either.  With the lone woman out of the house the boys can be boys. I’m told the decibel levels rise, the tv watching time increases, the pizza boxes double and wrestling becomes a viable pastime. And I know for a fact that the toilet seats stay up.

I know not everyone can get away as I do. Travel isn’t always cheap and not everyone is lucky enough to have the familial support that I do,  but there are smaller ways you can get a “trip” outside the chaos.

An afternoon off work spent at a movie on your own.

An at home pedicure while the kids are at school.

Leaving the dishes in the sink after dinner for a glass of wine on the front porch instead.

Walking home from work (and making the mental shift along the way) instead of the subway.

Time away from your family is as valid as time away with them. And anything that brings mom a little peace will benefit all of you.

Find your time and take it (guilt-free) wherever it may be.

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{ 8 comments… add one }

Lauraldawn June 23, 2010, 2:07 PM

Great post!
I agree so much with what you’re saying.
I don’t travel as much as you do (I wish!) but I went on a solo trip to NY in February and it was refreshing. I ditched the guilt as soon as I had a few pre-boarding drinks, and it was amazing.

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Amy June 23, 2010, 4:43 PM

Awesome post Heather.

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Jen Maier June 23, 2010, 4:50 PM

You are so wise, Heather. I completely agree. Travel is such a gift. Time for reflection and peace. Time to explore and be alone. But also time to miss them and return rejuvenated.

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VB June 24, 2010, 1:43 AM

Heather really enjoyed this post, great advice and suggestions!

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tewonawonga June 24, 2010, 3:29 PM

Love it! Off to somewhere exotic while they nap… ;-)

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Denise June 24, 2010, 4:50 PM

Too right, Mama Heather, too, too right! We may not all be able to travel solo, but we need to BE solo. If you dive under motherhood and stay there, only thing that happens is you suffocate. You know this Mean Mommy agrees 100%!! Nice job on the blog. Off to tweet this entry!

Denise

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Heather June 29, 2010, 11:15 AM

Thanks for all the comments. I’m curious to know how (and where) you all take the time you need.

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Andrea November 20, 2012, 10:36 PM

Just came across this. Great post Heather and I whole heartedly agree. I’m off to Africa next week :)

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