Last month, my book club unanimously decided to go away for a night. I don’t remember who made the initial suggestion, but the idea sounded amazing to me. In the past few years, there have been days where my house is a disaster and my girls are crying and just as I’m about to lose it… my cat pukes on the rug. There are times when this Mommy needs a time out. Most of my friends are married and moms, and I knew they felt the same. We needed a break… so we took one.
We chose a destination, found a hotel, and made dinner reservations. We arranged for husbands and other family members to watch our children. As a group of eight, we evenly split ourselves into two cars.
It was all so simple. It was strange.
Even with traffic, the car ride flew. There were no car seat buckles to fight with. No tantrums. I talked to my friends, and gave the conversation my full attention. I overpacked, but I left my watch at home. For the first time in years, I had no schedule. My first ever child-and-husband-free weekend had begun.
We arrived at the hotel and ran to the bathroom. I peed–by myself! At lunch, I ordered whatever I wanted. No one wanted to sit in my lap, or decided that they preferred my food to theirs. I bit into my hamburger and actually chewed and tasted my food. A glob of ketchup landed on my dress. I sighed. Some things will never change.
We lounged by the pool, and then spent some time in each other’s rooms, talking. Two of my friends brought their breast pumps; the cadenced buzz acted as a metronome, setting the rhythm for our conversations. Another friend has a daughter leaving for college, and contemplated an emptier house. A third treated us to a description of menopause. (Yikes. I am not looking forward to this.)
My friends and I got ready for dinner. I forgot how much fun it was to dress up in the company of other women. We gave opinions on perfume and jewelry and heels. Blow dryers sang; flat irons heated. I giddily chose an outfit for myself. I put on makeup: eye shadow, lipstick, liner, and mascara; all of it applied in quantities and colors that would be excessive for the playground. I said hello to my reflection. I hadn’t seen that woman’s face in a long time.
I called my family to check in and to wish my daughters goodnight.
After dinner, we went dancing at a club. We sang loudly, and probably off key. A bottle of vodka sat on our table. I eyed it warily. Next to it was a pitcher bearing some kind of fruity flavored shot. Those were delicious–and dangerous. If I had been a decade younger, I would’ve had quite a few.
I was tired when I got into bed, but had trouble sleeping next to empty space. The next morning we had breakfast. I sipped my coffee while it was still hot. Then we headed home.
My family met me at the door. My husband kissed me first, as our daughters bounced in his arms. He passed them to me. They clung to my neck, chanting, “Mommy!”
It was bedtime, and they were tired. I let them postpone it, though I knew how the next morning would play out. They will wake extra early, demanding Cheerios…and then gobble up whatever I prepare for myself. I will hunt for the toddler’s blankie when she cries. They will fight over their bath toys. I will drink my coffee cold.
But I held my daughters close, and rubbed my chin against their soft hair. I inhaled their summer smells. Their noses each got a kiss. Then the 3-year-old framed my face with her hands, ensuring that she had my undivided attention.
She paused for dramatic effect. And then: “Mama! I have a wedgie. Can you fix it?”
It was good to be home.