This weekend I did something I haven’t done in a really long time – years in fact. I hopped on a plane alone and spent the weekend away from my children and my husband just to get away (yes, you can judge me but I know it’s just the jealousy talking).
The truth is I was in desperate need of some grown-up me time, so I flew to Burlington, Vermont to visit my sister for her birthday. It was a whirlwind trip, but worth every second. I even learned a couple of lessons about myself, so you can say it was an extremely necessary educational excursion (at least this is how I will sell future attempts to get away).
From the time I went through security at the airport with just one small carry-on and a purse, I felt naked. Where was the stroller, backpack of activities per child, car seat, and baby bag? Where was the anxiety of keeping the children close and their hands to themselves? Where were the annoyed looks from single, childless passengers? It has been quite a few years since I needed to travel solo for work, so this felt quite different.
I arrived two hours before my flight and just sat at the gate and read my book uninterrupted while I sipped an iced coffee. I never thought an airport experience could feel like a vacation, but suddenly I feel a fondness for uncomfortable chairs and repeated loud-speaker warnings to keep your bags close.
The flight was a perfectly smooth experience that lasted less than two hours. Again, I rested my eyes and read to my heart’s content. Once the plane landed, I felt so refreshed I half-jokingly thought that I didn’t have to proceed any further with my weekend. I had already accomplished more uninterrupted me time than I had in years.
Luckily, I allowed myself to raise my standards just a bit and actually left the airport to experience a weekend in Burlington with my little sister. I had an amazing time just taking in the laid back vibe of the city and the beautiful scenery. The weather was perfect. Lake Champlain was glistening. The main street was a buzz with jazz and street performers. The food was delectable and the maple syrup taste testing was super sweet (okay I had to say it, sorry for the cheap and poorly used pun).
I truly enjoyed myself, but between the jazz-filled brunch, bocce ball by the lake, and horseradish-encrusted salmon dinner on the dock, I did get those familiar pangs of guilt I so hate and desperately fight against.
On Saturday, we had a lakeside BBQ for my sister’s birthday and a few of her friends brought their children. I watched as they played on the beach and of course thought of how much my babies would love Lake Champlain’s North Beach. One of the little boys kicked his ball toward me and I instinctively bent down to play with him. I am always the one drifting toward the children at parties. I am usually more comfortable keeping them company than engaging in small talk. I have always been that way, even before having children. I love kids. They make me smile, but gosh darn it I was trying to get a weekend away. So, with a smile I passed the ball back and discreetly (half guiltily) headed toward a bunch of grown-ups.
I became engrossed in conversations and soaked-in the scenery, but I kept wandering over to my bag to check the time on my phone. No one else seemed to notice the time or even care, but here I was checking the clock for no reason. With each glance at the time, I wondered what my children were doing. I wondered how my husband was handling it all. But, I resisted the urge to call.
I was missing them, but also realizing how “by the clock” I had become. My life is a series of appointments and schedules. In order to care for so many children in my daycare, I have had to become rigid with my schedule. Open at 7 am. Breakfast by 8 am. Preschool program at 9 am. Lunch at 11 am. Nap at 12 pm. Snack at 3 pm. Close at 5:30 pm. The weekends aren’t much better with multiple sporting events, birthday parties, and family events. Our schedules are usually mapped out weeks in advance with little spontaneity. And here I found myself hanging out with a bunch of ultra laid back Vermont artsy fartsy (did I mention all my sister’s friends are theatre folks) locals with easy and carefree attitudes.
After about five hours of just lounging by the lake (and about 10 checks of my phone), I finally gave myself a little kick to my butt. I actually took a deep breath and told that little voice in my head to take a break and chill. I didn’t need to be anywhere. I wasn’t responsible for anything in that moment, so what I needed was to just enjoy the moment. There is nothing like facing the realization that you are too tightly wound.
The rest of the trip was simply relaxing and lazy. I enjoyed chatting and laughing with my sister endlessly. We did nothing and loved it. I did get a little sad about not sharing the sunset with my husband though. It was so beautiful and I’m a hopeless romantic. Other than that, I made it through my weekend without much more guilt. I deserved the time away, as do most Moms, and I came home feeling reinvigorated and relaxed. Also, nothing compares to the shrieks of delight and squeals of “Mommy” as your family greets you after a couple of days away.
If you have the chance, I highly recommend putting your clock away and taking some time out just for you. When was the last time you did something like that? Do you feel guilty when you get away? Please leave a comment or start a discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.
Oh and I have to publicly thank my husband for doing such a wonderful job holding down the fort and caring for the kids. Without his support, this kick to my over-scheduled self would not be possible:)