3 years ago

One man’s business trip is another mother’s luxurious vacation.

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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

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.

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…except to explore the art of airport bathroom selfies…


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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
…and airplane selfies…

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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
…and Original Starbucks selfies… (this is the face I make when I know you’re not calculating for harsh backlight but I can’t correct you because you’re a stranger)


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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
…and Seattle selfies…


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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
…and a semi-disturbed spa ceiling photo after being lead to a back, hidden room when all I signed up for was a “classic pedicure” which by west coast standards must be extremely different because it was the best, most excellent for-an-introvert pedicure ever because I was taken to a separate, lowly lit room with ONE pillow covered chair, elevated and reclined so I could fall asleep and mouth breathe/drool while a lady silently grated the 5 inch layer off the bottoms of my feet.


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.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
and Russian pastries.


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:


Property of Carolyn Svellinger

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!  :)

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Seriously, March, come on.

For more colors from our trip, check out my Instagram.


  1. I follow your blog from time to time and thank you, thank you, thank you for posting such a wonderful essay on gaining a fresh perspective on life. Being a stay at home mom to 4 little kids with no family close by has been the hardest yet most amazing experience of my life. And I have found just taking a moment for myself, alone, can have the most healing and profound shifts in the way I see the moment I am in. Your line of “30 minutes of quiet in the car” had me cracking up and is so true! You are an awesome mom, many blessings to you and your family on the rest of your pregnancy and thank you for creating a blog that is so comforting to alot of women in so many places :)

  2. I loved this and felt every word. Amen sister. amen.
    I am SO glad you got your relaxing vacation! I hope it lasts you until the next one comes along…

    and “breastfeeding jail” is such a perfect description of how it feels… affectionately of course. :)

  3. Okay so I was seriously crushing on your lashes in your selfies, and then you mentioned that you’d given them some extra love… I have to know your secrets.

  4. Every five lines of this post has me resisting the urge to scroll to the combox and wax on in solidarity. But, I made it to the end without chattibg your pretty ear off, and I will sum it up by saying, “all of this.”

    I’m sitting here with kids plopped in front of the TV on a Saturday while Mike is on vacation at Lowes, and I’ve had to stop about seven times while trying to comment to say, “stop head butting your brother!”


    So glad to hear a sane person say something other than “cherish these days.” I could cherish them more if I could take a break, ammiright?


  5. If there was a way to absolutely paste a huge heart on this post I would. I know the feelings you go through on a daily basis and am so so so happy you got a little break. As moms I think we need it and need that extra time to recharge the batteries and keep going in our daily struggles and vocation. You look absolutely gorgeous and can’t wait to “meet” the 4th little gorgeous baby of yours!

  6. It sounds like it was such a wonderful and much needed rest for you! It’s wonderful how travel can bring you back refreshed to the parts of life that seem to be most draining. I hope you feel refreshed long after your return!


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