When my oldest was an infant I received an invitation to attend an event at a friend’s place. I accepted and a few days before, as she tallied the numbers, she asked if I’d be bringing Ethan, then only weeks old, along.
I said that I would.
“He’s like my elbow,” I said of the nursing infant. “Where I go, he goes”.
It’s been eight years since that statement and a lot has changed – including the addition of a second joint.
These days it isn’t uncommon for Ish and I to slip away “elbow-free.”
We know when we need it.
The days begin to run into each other, all our conversations start with a child’s name, we go to bed making lists of things to be done and wake up talking about what we need to do.
You would think that my profession would mean that trips away together would be easy and yes, it’s true, that there are many times when he travels with me for work and we have a great time while I’m getting a good story.
But a lot of the time I can’t truly relax because I’m working.
I come back with a face-and-arms-tan that proves I never got into a swimsuit and without that “I’ve just had a vacation” feeling.
Last year we did something we hadn’t done in ages. We took a vacation.
We went to the Club Med in Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. The all-inclusive located on a gorgeous beach front was exactly what I needed.
Two days into the one week trip I was hooked.
Ish was restless.
“Do you want to go into town?” he asked.
I knew what was waiting in town: People. Interesting people with stories to tell and faces to photograph. A trip into town would turn into a story and a story would mean I was working.
Not this time.
And so for seven days we did nothing but talk, relax and enjoy each other’s company. We met people from around the world while learning to play poker at a games night. We dined with couples and spoke little about work or kids.
We danced late into the night and we slept in in the morning.
When we returned the kids who stayed with their ever doting grandparents hardly knew we’d been gone.
You know what else changed?
Suddenly the little things that would grate on my nerves before I left didn’t seem so bad.
We kept some of the traditions we’d started on the trip (wine at nine (p.m.!)) going for awhile to give us time to reconnect at home and we had a new set of memories to hold onto through the times we felt drawn or cranky.
I like traveling with my kids. I just don’t believe they always have to come.
The boys are 6 and 8 now; no longer the elbows they once were. (They’re more like leg warmers now. Cute, cuddly ones that I can carry with me or take off and leave behind..but never in a drawer! :) ) Sure I sometimes miss them when I’m away (and always on the flight home) but I also know that they benefit from our trips even when they’re not there.
We come back to them after having spent quality time with each other, strengthened and a stronger family benefits all of us.
**It’s going to be challenging to try to find those “just us” moments on our trip around the world. No grandparents a few blocks away to call on. No friends who’ll slip over to give us an evening off. I’m not quite sure how we’ll find the “ just us” time next year.
Anyone interested in flying down to meet us for some babysitting? ;)