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5 Things You Learn on a Vacation from Motherhood

5 Things You Learn on a Vacation from Motherhood

Every mom needs a vacation from motherhood.

I understand that’s an incredibly privileged thing to say. Not everyone has access to reliable childcare. It is no cliché that it takes a village to do this job of parenting. God bless people, related or otherwise, who step in and love our children. We are the fortunate ones.

That said, let me reiterate… every mom needs a break. A long one. An afternoon here or there sorta puts a band-aid on the exhaustion, but if you’re a mom and you can swing it, I highly recommend getting a legit vacation from mom-ing.

I was just in such a situation. My darling littles were with their grandparents. For the first time in five years, I woke up, went about my day, and no one asked me for juice. No one needed me to accompany them to the bathroom. Actually, it was the longest stretch I’d ever gone not changing a single diaper.

It was weird at first. I’d say it took a full week to just get used to the house being so quiet… and clean. That said, once I was in a groove, oh, it was a lovely groove indeed. I would run errands with ease, eat what I wanted for dinner, and my days were Paw Patrol free.

I also had time to write without being interrupted every five minutes. What follows are a few notes I jotted down.

I can think again.

I never knew how much mental energy I expended every day constantly being conscious of their needs. When they’re with me, I’m so aware of their presence. I’m anticipating skinned knees or squabbles over toys. I’m planning out playdates and lunches, and I’m bracing myself for the onslaught of excuses as to why the eldest doesn’t want to go to bed. Without them, my mind is free to wander. I could solve physics equations with the extra time and space. I don’t, though. I watch Netflix.

The days are long. No, really long.

I’ve never liked that quote: “The days are long, but the years are short.” I never believed it. Everything feels like forever when your kids are wrestling through the difficult stages. What I did not anticipate is that, although the days are long when they’re home, they’re even longer when they’re gone. Their needs structure my day. Daycare runs, snack time, nap time, bath time… their schedule is my schedule. As much as I always dreamed of having free time again, I realized very quickly that I don’t pack in my day quite so tightly. And, if you can believe it, for the first time in years, I muttered, “I think I’m bored.”

The Mister and Me are actually a lot of fun.

I’ve always been grateful for my marriage. However, kids are attention-consumers. Martial connections stretch and strain when little people are around. This time when they are away has felt like a second honeymoon. We’re looking at each other and saying, “Oh, right, this is why I liked you in the first place.” This all began because we enjoyed each other, and even after everything, we still do.

The quiet is peaceful, but the house is less like home.

As you know, kids bring noise. Whether they chatter or cry, on a decibel level, they make their presence heard. So naturally, when they’re gone, the house is super quiet. I love it. At the same time, there’s a life force lacking. Kids bring a magic kind of energy that you can’t really explain until it’s missing. The best I figure is that home truly is where the heart is. When my kids are gone, yes, things are less stressful. At the same time, a part of my heart—whatever that part is that makes this more than just a slab of stucco—is gone too.

I am a mom.

That probably shouldn’t be a revelation, but it is for me. Getting married and having kids “later” in life means that my identity was forged in singlehood. The transition to wife and mom took a long time, and still pieces of me are resistant to the labels. However, a vacation from all my titles only proved one thing. I loved hanging out with my friends’ kids. My alone time was great, but felt even better when my husband came home. My cat can testify that I hovered a bit more than usual. Why? Because I’m a mom. It’s burned into my DNA now. I think like a mom. I still act like one. And it’s the life that I’d choose again if given the option. I couldn’t always say that at points in my life, but I can now.

Any way, I stand by what I said. Moms, you need vacations. Long ones. Bring on the girls trips. Make ladies night happen by any means necessary. Just don’t be surprised when you feel that familiar tug on your heart. The apron strings go both ways, and that’s okay. Sometimes a little break is just what you need to realize what you really want.

~Jennifer.

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