There are many parents out there that don’t need a break from their children. I am not one of those parents. This weekend I’m having an overnight stay without the kids, and I can’t bloody wait.
I need this time to miss them. I love the feeling of being excited to see them again and there hasn’t been much opportunity for that this past year. I need this time to sit in silence and read, or eat a meal at a normal pace instead of devouring it like a rabid wolf. It may be paradoxical but I need time away from my kids to remind myself how much I love them. I need this time to enjoy luxuries like having a wee in private (because I usually get a little person following me into the bathroom for a chat). I need this time to wear earrings without the fear of tiny hands yanking them off my head, and to wear make up, and put on clothes that aren’t pyjamas. Most of all I need this break to spend time with my husband without our little entourage, because I like hanging out with him but we are often distracted in the day, and after the kid’s bedtime — exhausted. During the pandemic we have spent a lot of time together, but its not quality time — just vast amounts of quarantine Netflix. We need this break to remind ourselves that we are a couple as well as parents; that we are Lauren and Conrad, as well as Mama and Dada.
The problem is that there is a finite amount of time in a weekend or overnight break and you can’t possibly do all the things you’d like to. You can’t have a lie in and also get up early to make the most of your child free time. You have to pick one. You can’t have a dignified, romantic, low key meal with your spouse followed by an early night, and also get horrendously, fall-asleep-in-the-taxi-home drunk all in one night. You have to pick a lane. My lane often includes tequilas, and in the morning; the dreaded hangover and Mezcal-induced regret.
Inevitably, we end up talking about the kids a lot. I find myself on a walk saying wistfully “ah the boys would love it here” (they wouldn’t), or spotting something on a menu and saying “oh they’d want to order that for pudding wouldn’t they, the little rascals”. I always ask my Mum for updates too often and she exasperatedly tells me to stop messaging and just enjoy myself. I always want to see pictures within the first hour apart from them, and I know that at their bedtime I’ll be looking at my watch and wondering if they’re asleep yet.
Although I do miss them when we’re away, this time is precious because its a reset. A chance to relax and drink wine and be a grown-up and spend 24 hours without pretending to be a Paw Patrol cast member, or Spiderman, or Poison Ivy (unless your partner is into that). Mainly it’s a chance to have a break from the aspect of parenting that is hard work. Because although they are wonderful, it is hard work, and it is tiring. If you are lucky enough to have a chance for a break, as I am (thanks Mum!), then take it. When you come back you’ll be refreshed, possibly hungover, possibly not — but always radiantly happy to see your little terrors again.