I've been a mother for three and a half years, and in that time, I've had two children, and have never left them for the night. Well, I guess that's not totally true. I've spent two nights away from Henrik while I gave birth to Theodor and stayed in the hospital, but I hardly call that a vacation or a "night away".
Eric has been away from them, a lot actually. His job since we've had children has required over night shift work and travel, and my job has been to care for them while he was away and to provide some sort of stability in our life. I think, if we lived closer to family, I would have been ready to leave them much earlier, but as a nursing mom, it was difficult, and I just wasn't ready to have someone else, a baby sitter, stay with them over night.
This Christmas, Eric and I gave each other the best gift: a night away! It had been much too long since we got to just be us, were able to forget about the kids, and be adults for more than a few hours. And, because we were in Michigan, where all of our family lives, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to let our boys spend some time with their grandparents (and people I trusted 100%) and for us to escape as we enjoy the last year of our twenties and pretended that we were "young".
The whole day leading up to our check-in time at our hotel I was nervous. I prepped the boys PJs, made their beds with all of their special blankets and animals, prepped milk and juice, and located key toys, diapers, and wipes. I tried to hide my nervousness, I'm not sure how well I did as I gave my Dad and step-mom the run down of their routine, tips and tricks to dealing with Theodor, and how the boys like to go to sleep. I actually wasn't worried about them caring for the boys at all. I was worried about Theo. He's developed a huge separation anxiety these days and throws hysterical fits when I leave to go to the gym or the store without him, so while I knew he trusted and loved his Gam and Pal, I wasn't sure how he'd respond to me not being there with him. And the last thing I wanted was for my parents to deal with one of his stubborn fits.
When it was time to leave, I took a deep breath, said my goodbyes, gave a few extra kisses and hugs and left without drama, an ordeal, or looking back.
On the way to the hotel, Eric and I were kind of silent. I think he didn't want to push me because he knew I was nervous about leaving the boys. Or maybe he was nervous too. Once Eric and I checked in, we honestly didn't know what to do with ourselves. When we usually check into a hotel we have to re-arrange furniture, unpack about four bags and head to the pool. But this time, we carried a small bag and nothing else. I felt naked and awkward as I carried in a purse instead of a bag full of diapers and cars.
We looked at each other and looked at the room a few times, talked about what we could do, and looked at each other again. I laughed. It was so funny, so foreign and so not what our life has become. We had a few choices, turn the lights down low, sleep, or head out for a night on the town, all things that would be highly desired and wonderful but funny to think about as we stand there looking at one another trying to decipher what the other person wanted.
At dinner that night we actually avoided talking about the kids and talked about US instead: about our goals, our interests and our future. We laughed, we actually made each other laugh instead of laughing at what our kids said or did. And then, just like that, it became less foreign, more comfortable and we fell right into our groove again. We were Eric and Abbey and not parents.
We got back to the hotel and ordered room service, watched TV geared towards adults, and laid in bed without a kid in there with us or the worry that a kid would walk in at any moment. It was peaceful, comfortable and right.
I got a text update when the boys were asleep (without any problems, of course) and could sleep easy knowing that this mini one night vacation was worth every penny. I kind of thought it was silly to take a night away in a hotel with my husband. But after doing it, I realized it was exactly what we needed to re-connect and discover why we loved one another.
When you deliver a child and you see your partner hold the child for the first time, you fall in love in a different way than when you decided to be with one another. This new parenthood love is MUCH different than the romantic, I can't spend time without you love. It's more tame, it's more polite, it's more respectful, it's more careful. Getting away for a night with Eric let me see him in the romantic kind of love again. I didn't see him as a partner in taming the circus, or a person to help me fold laundry or clean up toys. I saw him as my love, my friend, my soul mate, the 17 year old boy I fell in love with and the man he's become over the last 12 years of our life together. It's funny what you miss out on when you are chasing kids around.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend time without your kids for longer than a date night, I highly recommend it. It was the perfect way to end 2013 and move into the new year as a new couple with a new respect for one another.
In the morning, we decided to meet my parents and the boys for breakfast, it was our last few hours with my parents before we had to leave Michigan and I wanted to spend it with them. The boys were happy to see us and greeted us with open arms and huge smiles, and I was happy to see them, but I wasn't as emotional about it as I expected I would be. Which is a good thing. Of course I love my children with every essence of my being, but knowing that they were in good hands, and having the time of my life with Eric for more than three hours was good for the soul and good for me. And yes, I am very much looking forward to our two night stay away this Summer.