“We’ve booked you a room for the weekend,” my mom emailed me.
My husband and I were under insurmountable stress at that moment in time, and my parents had decided to gift us with a weekend away at a hotel – half an hour from our house.
At first, I didn’t understand. A break from our then three- and eight-year-olds certainly would be lovely, but they gave us that regularly by taking the kids to their house for the weekend. What difference would it make if we spent our adults-only weekend at our house or at a hotel? I legitimately couldn’t understand the point.
I tried to convince my parents to save their hard-earned money, and simply just hang onto our kids for the weekend to let us breathe, but they insisted. My mom doubled down on the importance of the hotel, and assured me I would understand later why it was important.
We sent the kids off with my parents, packed a small bag, set out enough food and water for a week for the cats (just in case), and headed out on a trip that I still considered to be a waste of money.
My perspective changed the second we smelled the chlorine of the hotel pool. We were in vacation mode. Sure, we were only half an hour from our house, but we were away. I walked into the pristine suite, with a spotless kitchenette and expertly made bed topped with an abundance of pillows, and I exhaled for the first time in months.
I had brought work with me. I had gone with the intention of getting some writing done, and of taking some time to sit down with my husband and try to work on plans for the big stresses in our life. Our marriage was fine, but everything else in our life seemed to be falling apart, and we really needed to figure out what we were going to do about it – but not that weekend. And my laptop never left its bag.
Instead, we went out for dinner, a rare luxury at that time. We laid in bed and watched an entire season of Black Mirror. I took a scalding hot shower with great water pressure and no kids or cats interrupting me. In the mornings, we snuck out of bed just long enough to enjoy the continental breakfast, before climbing back in bed to doze at will.
We did nothing – and that was the point. When we were home, there was always something that needed to be done. Even with the kids at my parents’, if I wasn’t working, or packing for our move, or cleaning, I felt like I should be. There was no taking a weekend to relax and do nothing at home because if I had even tried, the nagging within my own head reminding me of everything that I could and should have been doing instead would have negated any rest I took. At the hotel, there was nothing I could have been doing. Physically removing my ability to do anything forced me to relax and removed any guilt for doing so.
If we had stayed home, everywhere I looked would have been a reminder of the things that were causing me to hyperventilate.
I didn’t need a break, I needed an escape, and my mom knew it.
I should have believed her. When we were kids, a few times a year, my parents would load us in the car and drive literally down the street to the Holiday Inn. It was walking distance away – you could almost see it from our street – but we went for a night or a weekend just the same. It seemed odd to me at the time, but after my husband’s and my weekend away in the next town over, my mom finally explained the reasoning behind it. Just like I had, sometimes they needed a weekend where they weren’t reminded of stressors. They needed a couple of days when someone else cooked and cleaned, and my sister and I took a break from fighting to play in the pool. It was down the street, but it was away.
The stress that prompted our first hotel staycation has lifted, but we still go away, just my husband and I, once a year to a hotel less than an hour away. It’s a luxury, of course, and one we need to save for, but we make the effort. Our family can’t afford to travel. We don’t take “real” vacations. That weekend in a local hotel is as close as we come to wanderlust; but, we come out of it feeling as though we had spent a week on a beach – even if all we do is take a hot shower, binge Netflix, and nap.
Tagged under: Parenting