I have got an exciting trip coming up. In a few months, I’ll pack my bags and take off for distant shores. I’ll be gone for just a week. But a week alone. A week without my kids. A week that will feel like a lifetime.
This trip has been on the books since January, and I’ve been about half a point away from giddy every time I think about it. I mean, an airport without children! I’ll read a book! I’ll wander the shops! I’ll get a coffee and drink it while scrolling through Instagram. And the flight! I’ll sleep on the flight! I will even watch a movie! I’ll eat my food and get to keep my own bread roll. I’ll drink a glass of wine! Two even! It’s going to be like little slice of delightful.
In particularly dark moments, with my kids waist deep in a tantrum, I’ve retreated into my mind, thinking about this trip, imagining how a middle seat, squeezed in Economy Class will feel like a veritable solo kid-free unstressful easy happy simple paradise.
So, I’m excited. But not without trepidation. I mean, a week without children does sound amazing and all, but I have to go a week without seeing my kids! You know? Wah! Tears.
In preparation for this trip, my husband and I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to give this whole solo travel thing a bit of a test drive. A week is a long time when you are five years old, and I wanted to see how the kids would be in the care of someone else. I mean, would they eat their dinner? (yes) would they sleep okay (no better or worse than when I’m at home) would they play okay? (totally fine) would they spend all their days gazing longingly at the sky, waiting for me to return (turns out, not even a little bit.)
And truthfully, I wanted to see how, actually, I would manage without my kids around.
Last week I took a short little two night trip to Bali. And then again! again!!! Today, Mr. Chef and I are flying in Singapore.
And you guys, it is about a million times more difficult than I could have ever imagined. For me. I mean, the kids are sad, but they’re doing just fine. But me? A bag of nerves.
For two days in Bali, I did enjoy being on my own, popping in and out of shops without fear of you break it you bought it policies; hanging out at the beach with zero fears of children being swept out to sea; eating breakfast quietly with no spilled glasses of juice. And that was nice. For a few hours. Until I thought about them at home.
I watched the ocean waves crash onto the beach and thought how much Stella would love it and how Hugo would be pissed about all that sand. I sat in the car with a group of friends and felt somehow half myself, like it would be easier to hold a conversation with a baby on my lap, I’d know better how to navigate these social interactions while holding onto a little hand. While I was eating dinner, a child at a table next to me began screaming. I wasn’t annoyed or irritated by that screaming child. I didn’t revel in the fact that it wasn’t my responsibility to placate a tiny irrational being in a very public setting. I just really, deeply missed my own kids.
I wonder, have I forgotten how to interact with the world without a child by my side? Have I forgotten how to be a human, just me on my own?
Likely yes. I have. And I don’t even feel a bit bad about that. Having children has changed me. It’s altered core facet of my identity, and I can’t ever really go back, can I? Like, I’m forever going to be thinking, even on some tiny distant subconscious level, about my little ones, and feeling slightly unbalanced without their presence to steady my worry.
I’m still looking forward to my week away. I’m going to see and do some really wonderful things. But at least I know now that while I’m enjoying the crap out of a terrible airplane movie, there’s going to be a subtle background hum of disquiet, longing, and maternal worry.
Have you guys ever traveled without your kids? Any tips for, like, calming the eft down and enjoying the quiet?