My little family keeps busy in a great way and we all work hard to get our breaks away. My breaks are usually for dancing and my husband’s typically for business but occasionally for guy time. This time apart always refreshes our tolerance for the routine and the frustrating parts of parenting. We remember why we chose family. We remember how being alone was not a desired option in the long term. When we escape together, our romantic weekends away are fantastic even 6 years into our marriage but we cannot wait to get back for those little arms to wrap around our necks and squeeze. Those little faces lighting up on our return. What a powerful feeling. Love, full-throttle. No hesitation.
When we take separate time away though, the experience for one of us is very different. When I see the looming dates blocked out in green on my calendar, I get antsy. ‘Dave in Vegas’ scrawled across 4 full days. Anxiety creeps in so I shut down the app and try not to think about it.
When the day arrives, we are so swept up in the morning routine to get to school, we barely say goodbye. “Gotta run, have fun!” The rest of the day pans out as normal since Dad is always at work anyways. The hardest part of the day for me as a temporary single parent is late afternoon. Kids are tired, I am craving a moment to myself and dInner is yet to be served. Instead of thinking “How can I make this day special and have fun with the kids?” I am thinking “Please just let this day be over!”. It is a different kind of exhaustion than my regular work. More emotional and seemingly endless.
There is no competition between a 12 hr critical care shift full of resuscitation and transports. 12 hours with two small children is way more challenging. Even at work there are moments where I am only responsible for my own hunger, my own bathroom breaks. Childcare is relentless. I am needed non-stop.
Late day moments are the hardest. I have looming thoughts of the kids never ever getting to sleep or at least taking 2 hours to complete the process. Knowing it will all repeat the next day makes it worse. It becomes a challenge of just making it through the weekend, not enjoying the time together.
However, there are some truly unique things that occur when I am a single parent for the weekend. Situations that make the parenting just a little easier in a way. I never expect them and always forget they exist, hence the anxiety.
One benefit is that there are no conflicts in leadership. I am the boss. I make the plan (or so the kids have me fooled into thinking). I don’t have to think out loud or ask for help with the basic tasks. It is all me. No communication blunders here. It’s a one-woman show!
Another perk of the partner-less weekends are that family and friends are more willing to help you out. (I realize that I may be in a unique situation here as some families have no helpers around). Invitations for the three of us abound for dinner, visits and play dates. Have pity on the Mom at home while husband is off in Las Vegas. (More so pity the Dad left alone with kids because ‘What on earth will they eat all weekend?’). My husband once skirted out of every single meal when I was away for the weekend with takeout and family BBQ invites. He was quite proud he didn’t have to cook once. I was honestly relieved! We don’t have a fire-extinguisher in the house!
The last perk that I can find is that I get Me time at the end of the day. No discussion about whether to read or watch a show. The brain just winds down doing whatever I like. I often choose my solo pastimes here; painting, blogging, reading or catching a quick show on Netflix.
But that is where I run out of positives. I’ve stated before on my blog that I marvel at the sanity of full-time single parents. I cannot imagine not having backup. No respite for days on end. Wishing the days over instead of seeing them as opportunities for growth, fun and play. If I was a single Mom, I don’t know if I would be able to really slow down and practice gratitude. Those moments would be few and far between. I also marvel at multigenerational family living. Is this as easy as the families make it look? Having grandparents in the same home to engage in every day life. Having extra eyes and hands for the little ones. Do these benefits outweigh the lack of privacy?
I am grateful for what I have. Grateful for all the good moments and also the ones that drive me toward my favorite Riesling. The changes keep us thinking, learning and growing as parents, which is also what I ask of my children. Monkey see, monkey do. Or so I hope. The change and the time away gives us a Super-Mario style power-boost. If it wasn’t my turn this time to relinquish my parental duties, then the anticipation of planning the next trip is tantalizing enough. Heck, maybe next time, we’ll all just go to Disneyland!