About once a year, Craig takes a business trip to the coast (sometimes east, but mostly west), to visit multiple clients and talk about fruit and peppers and produce because that’s what he deals with and I hold a bitter grudge against him for leaving me to wipe three children’s bums while he sleeps 8 hours a night for a 4 day weekend in hotels where people come in and MAKE HIS BED for him and he eats complimentary hotel breakfasts and enjoys long, uninterrupted hot showers, costal temperatures, and tons of vitamin D SUNSHINE, and ocean air.
So when I realized he was planning to go last month and this was the first and only narrow window of time I’d ever (or so it feels) be able to leave the children with my parents and in-laws for an extended period of time, I was like TAKE ME! TAKE ME! because in a few weeks I’ll be in what my friend Jessica affectionately refers to as “breastfeeding jail” and won’t be leaving the house, won’t be leaving the couch for the next ten years (or so it feels). So Craig was like, ok.
Granted, this was a business trip, so not all play, but for a mother of three young children, I was good to go after sitting out in the rental car for 30 minutes letting the California sun scorch my face as Craig met with his first client.
Like, best vacation ever, sitting in a silent car for half an hour. Ever.
Craig was worried about me finding “something to do” while he met with his clients and I kept assuring him “You don’t understand. I DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING.” Nothing.
The paradox of being a parent and struggling for sanity during the months of ludicrous, relentless, dreary, colorless, STUPID, frigid weather in the midwest (or anywhere else covered in snow and ice and rain) is that as soon as I went to say goodbye to my children, I was sobbing and regretting the purchase of airfare for a 34 week pregnant woman. I was weepy the whole trip, actually, and could only just listen on the other side when Craig Facetimed them to talk.
As I listened to Craig speak with his clients (I sat in on some of his meetings like a big ol rhino.) I thought about how huge life is, how big and stretched out the world is, and how it’s filled with important things and people and history and sights everywhere, that someday our boys will be able to experience and learn from. I forget this so easily because I’m busy loathing the relentless diaper changings at home. I’m busy clawing the walls inside my brain for sanity as Emmett struggles with the challenges of having Autism and not able to verbally communicate the way he’d like to. I’m busy being begged for a snack every half hour.
The lives of our little boys are so small right now. All they need are their snacks, their LEGOS, their “trainies”, their letters
…and their mom and dad.
And I’d left them with me on the brink of mental collapse all because I’d lost sight of it.
And guess what? That’s normal. There’s nothing really wrong with any of that.
I think every single parent, whether they have one child or many will go through times (years perhaps) of exhaustion with their mundane vocation. That’s okay. I think the problem is when we believe that it’s not okay and that it’s not normal to want to be alone or away from our children for a while. The problem is when we think we’re supposed to do this alone.
There are tons and tons of excellently written blog posts dedicated to making mom aware that she needs to take time for herself and for her husband– I’ve read them, nodding in solidarity. But sometimes, when your personal situation in life requires you really can’t make that time, that’s when the exhaustion hits. That’s when a parent loses it. Not every parent can simply hire a random sitter. Not every parent has reliable family 10 minutes away to come watch the children while mom runs to Target solo.
I was worried about leaving Collin- he’s never spent a night without sleeping by my side.
I was super worried about Emmett. Super worried. Emmett is in a screaming phase which has driven me to tear-filled headaches and ugly angry thoughts at the end of the day. Something triggers him and there’s absolutely nothing I, or anyone else can do to calm him down. So he just screams. He thrashes. He kicks. And he screams tirelessly more. There’s no rational explaining him out of the situation– because he’s screaming so loud he can’t hear me. And when I seize a moment where he’s inhaling for the next scream, the sound of my voice doesn’t register with him. So trying to shush him or do the typical parental persuasion with a treat “if you’re quiet” is utterly fruitless. Totally and completely fruitless. He screams louder and more intensely. When it’s really bad, I put him in our bed, lock the door, and stand there on the other side, crying, as I listen to him thrash and scream himself to sleep 45 minutes later.
…so the thought of leaving these two youngest with even my mom and mom-in-law gave me the anxiety. But you know what? These guys are brothers, and Lexington, my non-stop chatty Lexington is so helpful and knows his brothers so well, that the report was everyone had a great and good time, with little outbursts from Emmett, and since they already sleep together in one bed, everyone slept quite well …because they had each other. That’s what Craig and I were told, anyway… ;)
I can’t thank God enough for my parents, my in-laws, and my siblings and sister-in-law who love (and spoil) our boys and make themselves available to be with them so that mom can remember where her head is every once in a while.
It was a lovely, refreshing, once in a lifetime (or so it felt) getaway. It was just dandy to take long showers, to curl my hair, to take a ridiculous amount of time on my eyelashes, to put body lotion on more places than just my hands, and moroccan oil in my hair, and smell like Nefretiri from The Ten Commandments, but I totally cried like a baby when we walked through the door to the best words I’ve ever heard:
And this from our 2 year old, Collin: “I’m so proud of you for coming home!”
Back to wiping bums and looking at this all day! :)
Seriously, March, come on.
For more colors from our trip, check out my Instagram.