Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Away from the Demons

Last weekend was my annual Girls Weekend Away.  Every year, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, one of my best high school friends, Heather, and I meet and pretend that we are childless for 48 hours.  We shop, drink, eat, dance, watch non-animated movies, and bond over Bravo reality television. (I want to add that I am now completely addicted to Intervention, and I am really looking forward to planning one for my husband's dependence on sporting events.)  We strategically plan this for the weekend before Thanksgiving so that we are very thankful during the holiday.

(Photo courtesy of Heather Licker)

In order to make the separation easier for everyone, I begin preparing the children a few days before my departure: 
"Mommy is going on a special girls' weekend on Friday and you get to stay with Daddy!"
"Why?" they ask.
"Because, sometimes mommies need a break to relax and take time to themselves."
"Because being a mommy is hard and is giving me gray hair."
"Children take a lot of energy to birth and raise."
"Because I was in labor with you for 36 hours, the epidural I got with Maisy left me with a spinal headache for a week, and I have forgotten how to shower on my own."
"Do you want to watch The Cat in the Hat?"

After the weekend I am expected (by my husband, my children, and myself) to be relaxed, calm and prepared to jump back into mother-mode- full force.  While the time away does help me to appreciate my family, and yes absence does make the heart grow fonder, the serenity of the pampered mother is short lived.

Last year, as I was picked up curbside from the United terminal, I was bombarded with extremely needed toddler hands and a husband who was so happy to see me he went for a long walk the moment I set my suitcase in the foyer.  The children wanted hugs, kisses, and presents, all of which I readily provided, and Ted just needed a few hours to himself (which I also provided).  Unfortunately, after the warm affections were complete I had the chance to look around the house at the unmade beds, the dirty laundry, and the dishes in the sink.  Take-out containers from McDonald's and the local Chinese restaurant littered the garbage can, and it seemed that the girls have not bathed, nor brushed their hair, in days.  Maisy, who was 8-months-old at this time, was starving since she had been exclusively bottle fed all weekend (Ted felt that it was too complicated to also give her solids).   My overwhelming sense of calm steadily dissipated and I began the countdown to this year's weekend.  There was only 363 more days to go.

I wised up this year, and pleaded with my mother and stepfather to assist my husband during my trip.  I was chastised by many friends for bringing in backup: "He'll never understand the role of a mother unless he is completely alone with the girls," or "You are enabling him."  Yeah, they make a good point, however, I am much more likely to come home to a clean house and clean children with my mother's obsessive-compulsive need to vacuum daily.

Traveling alone was absolutely everything that I imagined it to be. Even though I mistook the PM for AM on my itinerary, and arrived at the airport 12 hours early, I was there without a stroller, infant carrier, or diaper bag.  I could wait in the Pete's coffee line without a child tugging my arm begging for something smothered in chocolate.  I was able to fly stand-by on the next flight not worried about seat selection or finding room for ten carry-on bags.  And best of all, I could read whatever I wanted during my flight; no toddler entertainment necessary.  During this incredible flight it did phase me in the least that across the aisle from me sat a family traveling with a two-year-old daughter and an infant son.  The toddler whined and the baby cried for much of the flight, however it wasn't my responsibility. As we were landing my male seatmate gazed out the window and asked me about the stadium to the west with the retractable roof.  "I'm sorry," I apologized. "Please don't be offended, but this weekend I am disassociating myself from all things balls, especially men."

In my experience mothers need at least biannual vacations away from the kids.  I prefer to take one trip with the husband, and one without.  These vacations do not need to be week long trips to Europe or Hawaii.  A two-night stay at a hotel on the beach or in the country can provide just the right cocktail of relaxation and adventure needed to recharge the mommy batteries.  For those of you who are like me, guilt-ridden, yet still with a primal need to occasionally pamper yourself, Kara Williams, author of Vacation Gals, offers these six tips for a guilt-free getaway:
  1. The kids will survive without you!  You are not leaving them home alone with an ax murderer, it's just Dad.
  2. Single ladies, get the help of friends and family.  If it takes a village then get those villagers to start doing their share!
  3. Prepare meals in advance.  (I so do not believe in this!!!  See my travel tips below.)
  4. Make sure you and your travel partners/fellow moms want to do the same things.  It might make for a contentious weekend if your gal-pal only wants to shop and you only want to drink.
  5. If you are on a tight financial budget, search the web for some great deals, or ask a friend to borrow their vacation home for a weekend.
  6. Remember, you deserve this!!!  It's no easy task raising children.  Some time away is not a privilege, it is a necessity!
For the single moms there is a travel club just for you.  At "Mommy Getaways Travel Club" you can meet other single moms and enjoy great deals on relaxing vacations, without the kids!  Find them on Facebook at Mommy Getaways Travel Club for Single Moms.

There are other sites that offer ideas for a "stay-cation" (maybe the most ridiculous word in the English language).  I'm not going to bother boring you with these details, just please know that unless you are separated from every responsibility (including all spawns) it is not a vacation!  My tips for creating a successful weekend get-away are much more practical than Ms. Williams'.  I suggest that you read these carefully before embarking on your adventure.
  1. Do not, by any means, leave prepared food in microwavable containers for your spouse to heat and serve.  It is time for him to learn what being a mother is truly like.
  2. However, do not be upset if the children survive on McNuggets, fries and McFlurries for 48 hours.  Believe me, a few days to yourself is well worth the malnutrition and extra cavities.
  3. Do not expect your house to remotely resemble the house you left.  If less than three main pieces of furniture/appliances are not completely destroyed, consider this a success.
  4. Do not be alarmed that your well-groomed children may appear to look homeless when you return.  This is normal consequence of not bathing for three days and staying in the same clothing all weekend.
  5. Conveniently "forget" your phone charger.
  6. Most importantly, travel somewhere far enough away that if you are telephoned by a desperate husband/partner who is about to run down the street naked screaming "E-I-E-I-O", it would take you a good six hours plus an extra $250 to return early.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the first good laugh I had all day! I think I will start planning my vacation now:)