[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y son is two-and-a-half and I’d only been away from him for one night since he was born. My sister, a mom to two small kids, was in a similar boat. And it had been at least four or five years since we’d had any time to hang out together, just us. It was time for a getaway.
Making Our Getaway
So, we did it. We booked a tiny cabin near Lake Michigan for a weekend away–alone! It wasn’t exotic or even very far away, but it felt like another world as we pulled in. Just a little place all to ourselves on a wooded lot surrounded by farm fields.
That first night, we went out for lake perch and potato pancakes at a small inn draped in Christmas lights. In the morning, after uninterrupted coffee, we took a stroll on a deserted late winter beach, stopping to admire ice formations that looked like crystal mushrooms. Later, we filled a table with art supplies and made art. For lunch, it was more delicious food and some bubbly. Late afternoon, we gathered wood and built a bonfire. We watched trashy tv while munching on a dinner of homemade pizza.
Strange, Amazing, and Guilt-Free
We did all of this without being pulled away by kids, husbands, and our day-to-day responsibilities. There weren’t piles of other people’s dishes to do, goldfish crackers to dispense, or little voices demanding a monster truck or water bottle. We didn’t have to plan around naps or snacks. There was no one to put to bed. It was strange. It was amazing. And, to my surprise, I didn’t feel guilty about it at all.
Before I left, the whole thing did seem a bit indulgent to me and even a little selfish. I was going to leave my family behind to do something fun, without them. I was spending extra money when our budget is already tight. My son would be sad to see me drive away and I figured my husband would be burned out by the end of the weekend.
It’s All Good
But what I realized, pretty soon into my trip, is that taking some time away is not selfish at all. Getting away is actually really good for my family.
Turns out, my son and husband gained something amazing while I was away: a one-on-one weekend together. They went to the botanical garden, ate pizza with friends, and just hung out. They had a blast! By stepping back, I was giving their relationship room to grow.
Home Again, Home Again
When I returned home, I was revived. I had a chance to check in with myself, to reflect on my current stage of parenthood, and do a little self-care. My weekend away gave me a chance to actually miss my child and my husband and I came home a little more grateful for them.
The day after I got back, alone again with my son, I found that I was engaging with him in a way that I hadn’t in awhile. We were talking more and playing together more. We had missed each other, yes, but our break was healthy. It reinforced to him that his mother will always come back home and reminded me that it will not hurt my son a bit to leave him for a night or two (or a few more, for that matter).
Stepping away once in a while also helps my family continue to see me as a complete person–not just in my day-to-day roles as a mom and wife with a busy career and side hustles. Being a mom and a partner are amazing privileges, but I can get lost sometimes in those consuming jobs. In the mix, I’m also a sister, a friend, a traveler, and adventurer. I want my son to know those things about his mom.
And I need to see those things again from time to time, too.