There is one absolutely memorable present for mom’s this holiday season that just can’t be wrapped. That gift is kid-free alone time.
I just got back from a three-day ‘me, myself, and I’ vacation, something I do at least a couple times a year.
I realize there is a fine line between ‘need’ and ‘deserve’, and while I don’t know if I ‘deserved’ to get three days all to myself, I knew I definitely needed it.
We can never really be prepared for one of our kids getting sick. I certainly never foresaw my daughter getting sick and the two of us being in and out of the hospital or at multiple doctor’s appointments for the past six weeks. At the end of it all, it was like my ‘mommy bank account’ (if I had had one!) had been drained. On a good day, parenting is hard. On a bad day, or during bad weeks, it’s seemingly impossible to be an energetic, present, happy parent.
Just like a financial planner would advise having a bank account solely for emergencies—because you never know when your furnace will break down, or you’re faced with a huge vet bill you never saw coming—I found myself with a depleted ‘mommy bank’.
Interestingly, after I posted a photo of myself in my tropical locale on Facebook, with the caption, ‘Peace. No Noise. Me, Myself and I’, all the comments were positive. But it shocked me when I saw comments saying that I was ‘inspiring,’ and, ‘I should follow your lead!’ Yes, moms, you should! Why not ask for some kid-free alone time, even for 24 hours?
I’ve written about leaving my kids behind to go on solo vacations before, and I was viciously attacked online when I left my son when he was ten-weeks old. There’s no way to describe the feeling of seeing your face as a lead story on Inside Edition with the caption, ‘Mommy Ditches Baby!’
Yes, that’s what they wrote, as if I had ditched my baby in a dumpster instead of leaving him at home with both his Nana and Nanny! Then, my brother, who was living in Israel at the time, sent me an e-mail telling me he’d seen me on CNN. I’d gone viral.
But it seems things might be changing. Some of the comments on my Facebook photo from my recent trip indicated that mothers, finally, are starting to take solo-vacations. Without any guilt! At least three other mom’s commented excitedly that they were about to go on solo, kid-free vacations, and that there was nothing wrong with setting aside kid-free time for themselves.
I realize that I’m blessed with a big support system: three sets of grandparents, two amazing fathers to my children who will (and offer!) to pick up the slack when I go away, as well as our nanny (she’s the best!)
When my daughter was admitted to the hospital, (I will not divulge why, since it is her personal business) I couldn’t help but wonder how all these moms, some who, you could tell, have been in the hospital for months with their children, did it. They are stronger moms than me, that’s for damn sure. I’m not a mommy martyr. I don’t have, or didn’t have, any kind of ‘parenting savings’ emotionally. For weeks, I was a wreck, on the verge of tears 24/7, worrying, worrying, worrying. My entire body felt like I had been hit with a lightning bolt—my nerves were that shot. Short of checking myself into a hospital for exhaustion, I knew I needed a break from parenting, because I was losing it.
Many mothers, out of guilt it seems, don’t take or really don’t have the chance to take, a solo, kid-free vacation. You know what happens when you come back from a kid-free, solo, mini-vacay? You come back rejuvenated. You come back with a heart full of love for your children, because, yes, you’ve missed them (I know I did!) but I know that I’m a better mom for having taken this kid-free alone time. I may still have mommy bags under my eyes (I think they’re there for good!) but I am no longer an almost sobbing zombie.
In fact, many of my mother friends, whose kids are in school full days, are starting to take stay-cations where their partner will take over for an entire 24 hours while they check themselves into a hotel in the same city they live in, just for some peace and quiet. Another idea would be to book an Airbnb for a day or even a week—you can get some incredibly cheap deals that way. I’ve even offered my empty house (when I’m away) to friends in the past. My best friends will gladly take the key to my empty home for a little peace and quiet when they need it—even if it’s for a few hours. (Remember that scene at the very end of Sex and the City 2 when Charlotte let herself into Carrie’s unused apartment for some much-needed alone time?)
Mostly the problem is that moms don’t ask for help. Trust me, your child will be fine for 24 hours with your spouse, partner, or even a friend. Now is the perfect time to pretend to go back in time to your pre-kid life, even just for 24 hours.
So this Christmas or Hanukkah, ask for the gift of kid-free time. It may not come with wrapping paper and a bow, but honestly, it’s the best present you can get. And it’s the best present you can give yourself.