Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let the guilt go and be FREEEE!

The other night as I was getting my daily facebook fix I saw a status update of a friend of mine.  She recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica with her husband.  She has a 9 month old son and I wondered if she had brought him with her.  As I looked at the comments, I read that another one of her friends had inquired how long she was a away and if she brought her son with her.  It was an innocent question to me but I noticed my friend's response bordered on a bit defensive.  She explained that her and her husband were the photographers and videographers for the wedding and to bring the baby with them and do their job too would've been impossible, so they left him with their family.  Although she missed him (of course - we always do) he did wonderfully without them.  She also encouraged the commenter that she too should book a trip without her babe.

I wondered....was I reading too much between the lines or was it because I too am a Mother that could I detect a bit of the guilt that she possibly felt for having had a great time away from her baby OR was it that this "friend" possibly made her feel like an inferior Mother for having "left" her child behind?  (other Mom's are great at doing that and it needs to STOP)

In any case I decided that I would "like" her comment.  I loved that her and her husband took a trip together (whether it was work, business or both).  I have yet to see her personally with her son but I know her to be a fantastic person who is amazing at anything she does, besides that, I think that more Mom's would do well to take some time away from their babes once in a while.  If not just to "get away" from the everyday monotony of changing dirty diapers, washing bottle upon sippy cup, doing what seems like a never ending pile of laundry, playing peek-a-boo and "This little piggy" too many times to count, but also to reconnect with your husband and/or friends.

No excuses necessary.

The first time my husband and I went on a date after Adrian was born was when he was 6 months old.  We left him with a good friend of mine and it was his bed time by the time we left the house.  He would simply go to sleep and she could just relax.

Not really.  He cried the entire 2 hours we (tried) to enjoy our supposed romantic, Italian dinner and alone time, as my boobs leaked and my husband kept checking his phone to make sure it was on so as not to miss the frantic call from my friend yelling at us GET HOME NOW while our baby wailed in the background.

Okay, so it didn't exactly end like that.

But close enough.

When Adrian was about 9 months I went to a friend's wedding out of town while my Dad and his wife babysat him overnight.  My husband was on a business trip so he unfortunately couldn't join me. Adrian had a great time with his Poppa and Nana.  He was well taken care of, spoiled with affection and love.  I had a great time catching up with great friends and watched two amazing people get married.

When he was about 18 months old, my husband and I were invited to a friend's wedding in Montreal.  I was 8 months pregnant and very unsure as to what we should do.  This would have to be a 2 nighter!    My Mother-in-law offered to take care of him for an entire week-end (not a small feat let me tell you).  Then she said something that has stuck in my head since...."I wish I was more "free" with my time when the kids were little".  As I contemplated the decision her words kept repeating in my head.

After much deliberation (on my part - due to my moody and very pregnant, uncomfortable state) we went and I'm so happy we did.   My husband and I explored Montreal, eating at amazing restaurants and attending a lovely wedding where I shook my booty and (very large) belly, thoroughly enjoying a very romantic, MUCH needed week-end away.  Adrian had a wonderful time bonding with his grandparents and his Tia and Tio.

Since my second son was born we've been a lot more "free" about our time without the kiddies.  We've taken 2 overnight trips together and had a blast both times.

The biggest "test" for me came last December.  My best friend got married in Mexico, I was to be her Matron of Honor.  Although my husband couldn't join me he encouraged me to go, go, go!  He stated it was important for me to see Erin get married.  She was there for mine and did an incredible amount of work leading up to and on my wedding day  although she lived in a totally different province.

I was terribly conflicted.  I felt weird about going to Mexico without my husband and also for leaving my babies for longer than a 48 hour period.  This was not a trip my husband and I could take "together" for various reasons....and if I was to go to Mexico for a romantic wedding shouldn't my husband be there with me?

In an ideal situation, YES.  With the kids?  NO WAY!  Bringing a 2 year old and a 1 year old with us to a tropical destination is not our idea of a good time.  If you're a parent that has and does bring your child(ren) with you on these types of trips - all the power to you!!!  Seriously.  If you survive the plane ride and the week in an unfamiliar setting with two kids under 3 without losing it on your spouse or just losing it all together you are a better person than I.

In the end, I went to Mexico.  By myself.  For 4 nights.

Besides the pathetic situation the night before I left, when my husband found me in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, sobbing into a towel.....

Mexico. was. absolute. BLISS.

As I sat around the pool under the blazing hot Mexican sun chatting with friends and having my fifth mojito for the day I admitted something that until the moment it came out of my mouth had not occurred to me.  I got "a piece of January back" during my trip.  And indeed I did.  While I was there, I wasn't a wife, I wasn't a mother, I wasn't a cook, a slave, a housecleaner or a homemaker.  I was just me.

I had missed her and welcomed her back with open arms.

Of-course all of those titles came tumbling back at me as soon as I stepped off the plane and into the truck with my husband and 2 sleeping babes.

It sure was lovely while it lasted.

The advice I will give you all so generously, my Mommy (and Daddy) and Mommy and Daddy's to be is to be more free with your time without your beautiful children.  Find yourself once in a while beneath the title of Mommy or Daddy.

Leave the guilt behind!  (that's for the Mom's)

You are not a better parent for feeling guilty.

Let it go.

It feels damn good.


Shannon Brockman said...

LOVE IT!!! The way you write about things is so clear and true... Thanks for this. I did need some "shannon" time. I had almost forgot how to me just me. I even had an afternoon of just sitting, by myself, listening to my own thoughts.. It was blissful!

Keep the blogs coming.. they always speak to me.

Perfect Dad said...

Nice post. Hope you liked Montreal -- that's where I currently live. I prob'ly saw you :)

I totally agree with you, and both my wife and I spend time away from our three children. Each year my wife goes to visit her mom, and she takes sometimes only one or two of the kids while I take care of the remainder. She's gone to conferences, same thing. In fact, I love it, because then the boys can be together for boy time, which includes eating popcorn in bed and watching a movie late into the night, or winter camping in the backyard, or go out for gooey pizza, or whatever.

My wife and never go away from all the kids over night though. Three kids is too much to leave with anyone. But I don't think we mind. At least I don't. The odd date is good enough for us.

January Dawn said...

Thank you Shannon - what nice words to hear! I too, took quite a few hours to just walk on the beach to hear my own thoughts....I agree. It was blissful.

Alex - thank you for you comment! I have to agree that asking anyone to take on 3 young ones overnight is a lot for anyone to take on. Do you have 3 boys??? BTW - winter camping in the backyard!? For real?

Robin-Lee Pereda said...

Hey Cuz,
very well said (or written... whatever. *S*)

The first year or so that Cesar was gone, I was either with Nate or working 24/7. Literally. The first time I left him I felt SO guilty- but upon my return, quickly realized that I had become a better mom, friend, employee- PERSON because of my "me" time!

Since then, especially in this season where it's just the 2 of us, I have purposed to get away without Nate for at least one night (usually 2) every 6 months or so, & to have an evening out with friends at least once a month. (Our last girls night, we had a group of us from ages 21-40 go out to play laser tag...what a RIOT!)

Anyways- you're absolutely right- I am a BETTER parent when I choose to step away from the guilt & "find myself once in a while beneath the title of Mommy."


January Dawn said...

Thanks Robin!!! I have to admit, I don't know how you do it. I give serious kudos to you little cuz. And I am glad to hear you get the chance to just "be you" every once in a while. xo