Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Post-Vacation Reflections

It has now been more than a week since we returned from our much-anticipated Mexican vacation sans kids.  If it weren't for the skin still peeling off my back and shoulders from my sunburn, I wouldn't believe it is more than 80 degrees anywhere in the world right now.  Spring has yet to arrive in the Great White Tundra.  Mexico seems a lifetime ago.

Oh our vacation!  It was everything.  It was too short and too long.  It was too hot and not hot enough.  I pretended I wasn't a mother to four small children and it was impossible to forget I was a mother to four small children.  I couldn't wait to get home and then when I got home I desperately wanted to be back poolside sipping my margarita.

Being an at-home mom is such a funny thing.  As soon as you think you hate it, as soon as you think you aren't cut out for it, as soon as you think you've chosen the wrong path, as soon as you wonder what the hell you were thinking when you decided to have four kids in six years, as soon as you think you can't do it for even one more second, that's when you find out, in the peace and quiet and serenity of being alone in your own thoughts, that all you ever really wanted is what you already have.

It took me a full 24 hours to relearn how to do absolutely nothing.  Just think about that for a minute. When was the last time you had no where to be?  When was the last time a clock made no difference because there was no dinner to be made or nap requirements to be met or bedtimes to abide by or even things to get done before the sitter arrived?  Let me tell you something: It is the weirdest, worst and best feeling in the world.

The feeling of not being needed, at first, is exhilarating.  Especially if you haven't felt like that since November 21, 2006.  I drank up this feeling of allowing myself to just be.  When I first arrived at our resort, I put on my swimsuit, stepped out on our back patio, and slid my body into the quiet and empty pool.  I rested my shoulders and head on the side and let that intense Mexican sun beat down on my back.  I knew I was getting burned and I didn't even care.  The warmth and quiet and stillness felt so good.  I couldn't be disturbed even for a little sunscreen application.  I closed my eyes and let my legs float out behind me. I almost fell asleep.

It was such an out-of-body experience to not have that expectant feeling that at any minute I will be jarred out of my meditative state by a text message, a cry for "Mommy," an alarm telling me I need to be somewhere.

After five days of this I found out that the hardest part of not being needed, is not being needed.

There was a small, 10-second video clip, on Brian's phone of Katherine and Bobby in the bathtub.  I must have watched it 100 times when I was gone.  And that is not an exaggeration.

Oh to be with just my husband, alone and together without disruption, was glorious.  As it turns out, we haven't stayed married these past 10 years just for the sake of the kids.  We actually like each other!  A lot!

But that ache for my babies, it never goes away.  I wasn't a sobbing mess.  I wasn't dying to call to check up on them.  It was just noticeable.  Something was missing.  All was still going to be OK.  It was like I had unintentionally left my wedding ring on my dresser.  My thumb constantly tracing the spot that is usually surrounded in gold.

I am so grateful to so many people in my life that made these five days happen.  They helped love and keep watch over our kids happily and without reservation.  I'm not kidding when I say they practically kicked us out of this country.  It does not escape me how incredibly lucky I am to have others who care about the welfare of my sanity as well as my marriage.

To any exhausted, over-scheduled, under-appreciated, run-down parents out there (especially you, moms) let me tell you this.  There will never be a good time.  There will never be enough time.  There will never be extra money.  It will never be easier.  Your kids will miss you.  You will miss them more.  You will worry.  And it will be a lot of work.

But hear me now: It is worth it.

You deserve it.  Your marriage deserves it.  And most of all, your kids deserve it.
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