I just returned from a two-week holiday with only my husband (sans children – GASP!), with no stress, days upon days of unending happiness, lots of belly laughs, lots of love from some amazing friends and lots of exercise (and food, lots of food! – ok, ok and alcohol).
I now have a renewed sense of how important it is for self-care. It was REALLY hard to leave for two weeks and it took a team of people to make it possible. You see, on top of having three children, we also have managed to acquire have three cats and three goats. Let’s just say that I never saw that coming. This involved coordinating the care for each one of those beating hearts. It took eight people! Eight people stepped up for us so that we could have a break. I will always be grateful. The coordinating and packing and organizing was one thing, but the guilt was real. So much so, that I felt sick in the days leading up to our departure. All that being said, I feel like a new woman now that we are back and the trip is now a thing that I did.
Our kids got to spend two weeks being doted on by their grandparents while developing long lasting and loving relationships with them. They grew up in those two weeks. I came back to the baby who had a whole new vocabulary, stringing together words into sentences and displaying new ways of communicating with his body and hands. It was hilarious and so entertaining.
Our middle daughter, the jokester, was cracking new and witty jokes and our oldest was suddenly “using her words” to explain how she felt before flying into a rage fueled meltdown. It was like all the things I was trying to instill in her, all of these years had suddenly come together in front of my eyes. It felt like a miracle (no joke). I cried.
There was, of course, a downside. Our baby (well, toddler really) had a harder time. When he saw me, he called my name and came running into my arms. We hugged and I cried with joy. I thought, ok, I am in the clear – it’s all good. Then he saw his dad and the love fest started all over again, it was a beautiful reunion. When the dust settled and all the hellos and hugs were doled out, he didn’t want me. He gave me the cold shoulder. He pushed my hands away when I tried to touch him. He ran to everyone else, but me. I tried to laugh it off, but it hurt. Thank goodness for the girls, because they had love and hugs for days.
He made it clear that I had to earn back his love. And, let me tell you, I worked my ass off. Thankfully, the next day I had him to myself for about an hour, while the girls disappeared into their room to play. We read books, played, sang songs and snuggled. After awhile he started offering up unsolicited kisses. Kisses on my cheeks, knees, arms, head and I was so relieved. So many times, he would make silent eye contact with me for far longer than is natural and then would say one thing: mama. Almost like he couldn’t believe I was there. It took a few days, but we are back to normal. What is mostly different is his more solid connection with his dad. I will take that any day. It’s beautiful.
The point here is that despite the difficult part, this trip was so necessary. I am patient and I have so much more to give my kiddos now. I don’t feel like I want to yell. My frustrations are fewer, but when they are there, I am not reacting to them. I have a clearer perspective on the kids’ behaviour. I am working with them instead of against them. On a personal level, I really notice when I start to get anxious and agitated and I am more able to control myself and my emotions. I feel braver and more capable. I have more energy for all the things. Most importantly, my husband and I are more connected than ever. Having kids can do a number on your relationship, if you let it. Finally, I see the ease in my kids and it’s like a big weight has been lifted from all of us.
Then my thoughts go to, how do I maintain this feeling while juggling jobs and babies etc…. Well, it’s going to be small investments throughout the days, weeks, months and year ahead, and let’s be real – some more solo trips in the future.