I Went Away With a Girlfriend for Two Nights So I Wouldn’t Crack

I went away with a girlfriend for two nights. My husband insisted. I had been going through a really rough time, due to anxiety problems combined with some truly evil migraine medication side effects combined with potty training. He knew I was about to break. He told me, “You need to call your friend and ask her to go away with you. Right now. If you don’t call her, I will.” She is also a mother of three-year-old twins, so she heard the desperation in my voice text, and scheduled a beach weekend with me right away. Her husband must be as smart as my husband.

In order to make it to my weekend away, I had to sludge through my husband’s six-night business trip first. It was such a huge strain on my body and mind that I could barely even look forward to my beach weekend. I survived, but potty training didn’t.

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I did force my friend to do this with me and she will never forgive me.

When my friend and I told our strength-training instructor that we would be going away to the beach, he got a sparkle in his eye and said something about us “going out” and blah blah. We looked at each other and laughed. Sleep. Lots of sleep. And maybe a couple long walks on the beach. (Oh, and somehow I would force my friend to do one of those old-timey dress up photos with me, but that would be pushing it.) Our trainer, a man with no children, had no idea what we were really looking forward to. Sleeping through the night. Deciding when we wanted to go to the bathroom. Eating a whole meal without witnessing anything gross enough to make us stop eating. Eating a whole meal without getting up. Not having anyone demand anything of us. Not dealing with anyone else’s poop besides our own. Not having anyone ask us 900 questions a day. (Not exaggerating: the average three-year-old asks upward of 400 questions a day. Times two for us. It’s science.)

It was finally time to leave. My kids, ages 6, 3, and 3, are finally old enough to basically say, “Don’t let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out” when I leave. A year or two ago, we were still in the cling-to-my-legs stage. Sometimes they seem better off without me. I know that is the anxiety talking, and it’s not really true. But they fight less when they aren’t around me. They potty train properly for my husband. My husband can keep the house in order. Sometimes it seems that I shouldn’t be here. Anyway, I was so emotionally drained by the week of single parenting prior to our departure that I sagged into my friend’s car with not quite as much enthusiasm as I had imagined I would have. I wanted to weep, but more from exhaustion rather than from sorrow at leaving the kids or from joy at leaving the kids.

As the house got further and further behind us, we realized it was so much … easier… to talk to each other without four three-year-olds talking to us at the same time. Wow. Imagine that. We were able to finish thoughts and sentences. Have a real back and forth like normal people. It was so… easy. And not once did I turn around and strain my neck looking into the back seat!

We arrived at our hotel and both of us had to take Benadryl. It’s been so long since we slept through the night that we know we can’t actually sleep through the night anymore. The body is a cruel mistress.

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My first time alone in a hotel room. Age 36.

I had never slept in a hotel room alone before. Since I married at age 22, I can’t remember a time that my parents or my husband weren’t with me in a hotel room. (I did go to college and also studied abroad in Italy, but I always had roommates!) It was weird and scary and intimidating. And yeah, kinda nice.

We did all the usual things that you would expect Mormon moms to do at the beach in the cold springtime: walk around, sleep in, eat at cheap restaurants, look at dolphins, not drink, and maybe make fun of the cheerleading competition that was in town. It wasn’t life-altering. But it was good. Very very good.

I was surprised that I couldn’t make myself call home.

I was also surprised that I never did relax. How many days would it have taken?

I was also surprised that when I came home, I discovered that my kids are the cutest things in the whole world. Those little voices? Those chubby legs? Those giggles? Those fat arms around my neck? Are you kidding me?! Beautiful.

It lasted about an hour. Then they were the same old kids.

I need to go away again.

 

Also, this is a non sequitur, but this sign made me laugh every time I got on the elevator.

Also, this is a non sequitur, but this sign made me laugh every time I got on the elevator.

 

When Vacation Isn’t

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(Please note that I am sinking into the sand here. I told you I never carry both of them.)

Woe is me: my beach vacation was hard! Just before I packed my 3 diapered children off to the beach, I saw an article from The Onion entitled “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean”. I actually elle-oh-elled. (Okay, I’m totally snorting while reading it again right now.) The last line is, “At press time, [mom]  was reportedly busy preparing a meal identical to what she would have made back home, except that she planned to serve it on paper plates.”

Oh, this is such a First World Problem. (Or, as my college roommate would say, “A White Person Problem”.) I suck. I will complain about my vacation when most people don’t even get vacations. Let me serve some cheese with my whine. Or get out my mini-violin. Go get your tissues, people, this is gonna be a tearjerker!

My mom always said, “Why would anyone want to stay in a beach house instead of a motel? If I wanted to makes beds and do dishes and cook, I would’ve stayed home.” I guess she wrote that Onion article.

Mr. Okayest and I were a perfectly matched beach couple. We both liked to spend all day (and I mean all day) on the beach. We read books, we napped until we were too hot to breathe, and then we jumped in the ocean and kissed between dodging waves. Repeat. At night, we went out to dinner and took moonlit walks and dared each other to swim in the black ocean. We did this for years and years, and it was the one thing that I loved about not having children. (Maybe the other thing would have been my Mormon Nap after church on Sundays.) I think the beach was the one place I felt content without children.

Fast forward a decade.

Woe is me. In addition to normal vacation gear, I had to pack formula, baby food, a potty seat, a stool, two high chairs, two pack n’ plays, a baby gate, three floaties, one blankie, diapers, pull-ups, night diapers, swim diapers, and wipes for the beach. I had to spend the first sunny morning shopping at the Food Lion with my cousin. I had to plan and prepare dinners and lunches that would appeal to six kids, ages six and under. I had to keep all my children from drowning, burning, or dehydrating. I had to convince all my children to sleep in a strange place because this is fun. I had to do dishes and wash bottles and clean the dang floor under the high chairs three times a day, because we didn’t bring the dog along to do it for me!

Woe is me. I hauled cranky children into the house for every lunchtime and naptime (2 twins x 2 naps per day). I hauled slimey suncreened children back out of the house for every beach time, praying that they didn’t pee on me while they were smooshed into their too-tight pee-through swim diapers. I dealt with vacation-inspired diaper rash so bad that it called the doctor all by itself. I had to bathe my children way more than I ever do at home, because of the sand/ diaper rash/ sunscreen patina. I had to let my oldest kid get knocked down by a wave so he would have a healthy fear of the ocean.

You know what? SO WORTH IT!

So worth it: Mr. Okayest was with us for days on end – no work, no grad school, no homework, no car repairs or house repairs, and, oh yeah,  no house chores that he has to do because his wife didn’t. (At home, I call myself a “garage widow”.) I loved having his help with the babies, but mostly I just loved seeing his tanned, scruffy, beautiful face all day, every day. I miss his face when he goes to work.

So worth it: my serious introverted toddler actually had fun. Fun. This kid can sometimes go an entire day without smiling….but here, at the beach with his cousins, he was laughing. He was running and jumping and splashing and sand-castle-building and pretending weird things.

So worth it: My kids slept better in a strange place than they do at home. Must have been all that sunshine. And all those rowdy cousins.

So worth it: I did get to swim in the ocean with my husband a few times (i.e., he threw me in) because there were more adults back on the beach to help out. I did get to sneak out to dinner and go on romantic moonlit walks on the beach with my husband after the kids went to bed, because there were more adults back at the house to stay with the kids. It had been a loooong time.

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And, lest I forget, here are three more vacation-related things for which I am grateful:
1) We did not get evacuated for a hurricane this year. We were actually evacuated two years in a row.
2) I was not on bedrest this year. Thankfully my cousin bought out our share of the beach vacation last year, after the doctor forbade me to go.
3) Most importantly, we are not the owners of that beach house. It was falling into the ocean – much like the one we rented last year, which has fallen into the ocean.

 condemned