Last month I went on holiday without the kids. I had hoped to write about it before I left, but life and preparations (mostly ironing) have been getting in the way. Instead I typed a little on my iPhone on board the train to Dublin which went like this:
‘It felt very strange saying goodbye to the kids as we’ll be apart for a whole week. We’ve never been apart for more than one or two nights.. So this feels a bit strange. My feelings fleet back and forth – guilty for leaving, silly for feeling guilty, and sometimes I’m so excited about getting away on my own, that I begin to feel guilty about that too. Then I get annoyed with myself for not just being grateful.
Saying goodbye was tough as the kids did their little sad faces – eyes downcast with a bottom lip pout – and they said they wished they were me as I have more fun! I had to bite my bottom lip.
Well off I go. I will try to enjoy myself and not worry about how they are coping without me. I need to let go and stop worrying because I KNOW they will be fine without me’.
As you see, typing on the iPhone didn’t last long – unable to type quickly, I became frustrated and I got distracted people-watching, admiring handbags and the ram-shackled backs of buildings normally hidden from view. To paint a fuller picture, at one stage I actually didn’t want to go away at all; I thought it may have been easier to just stay at home. I’m glad that I didn’t have that choice. The flights were booked and there was no going back. And thankfully my guilt seemed to evaporate as soon as I boarded the flight.
The holiday was good, almost too good as it felt like the polar opposite of my life. For 6 hot, sunny days, I had no cooking, cleaning, vacuuming, grocery shopping, school runs, ironing.. no ‘stop fighting’ (x 45), no ‘eat your cereal’ (x 25), no ‘leave the dog alone’ (x 20), no letting the dogs out to do their business, no going out to pick up the dogs’ business. Every morning of my holiday, I slid out of bed when I felt like it and maybe had a Jacuzzi while watching TV before breakfast. There was no multi-tasking – I only had to dress and feed myself. Even though we were busy, I was reintroduced to what it’s like when you only have yourself to look after and it’s lovely, so easy and effortless!
Every day, I was asked what I would like for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We drank G&Ts before dinner and had long, wonderful uninterrupted adult conversations about nearly everything – movies, books, restaurants, relationships, and our childhoods.
During the trip I must admit a short-lived pang of jealousy towards my travel buddies and the greater level of freedom which I perceived they all enjoy. None of them have young children. Speaking to them and listening to their stories made me realise how all of my stories, like concerts I’d attended or how many of the books I’d read were all from my pre-baby era. I was jealous of the time they had to enjoy and pursue their interests. However being with adults who didn’t have young children made me realise how many of my conversations revolve around my kids, and how I need to make an effort to talk about my own interests in general and perhaps seek out new experiences.
I had time to think. My thoughts flowed freely and uninterrupted, allowing me to arrive at a few conclusions. Over the course of the holiday, I’d sorted some things out in my mind – what I really want, where I’m headed and some long-term goals.
After a week it all had to end and I landed back to reality on a Ryan air flight with a bump.
Coming home was strange. I remember seeing the kids and just being amazed at how innocent they seemed. I had missed them and just sat down to watch them play. I listened intently to their gentle chatter about what they’d been up to when I was away, enjoying their squeaky enthusiastic voices as they chirped over one another to be heard. After a few days, I was feeling content back in my domestic bliss, planning the twins’ birthday party for all their class mates.
Having time away felt incredible and just getting the chance to really think things out has clarified some ideas. Only now can I see how little time I’ve devoted to actually thinking.. We all need time doing nothing, or doing something physical and humdrum to work out our thoughts. We all need a holiday now and then. Quality time with yourself is not at half nine in the evening after you’ve tidied up the toys and collapsed on the sofa.
The holiday was not the emotional experience I had expected – I had expected to miss the kids terribly and want to come home early, but I felt and still reap the benefits, even weeks later. The kids were absolutely fine without me, in fact they had a ball. Before I went away I thought I was not the sort of person who goes on holiday without the kids and I realise now that I may have judged others unfairly. Going away gave me the opportunity to figure some things out and appreciate all that I have, and I feel like my family appreciates me a little more too. I feel more secure knowing that if need be, I can go away and my children will be content and well cared for.
And next time, I guarantee this mummy will feel zero guilt.
Categories: Mummy time