"Four days?!? You and Daddy are gonna be gone for four days?"
"Yes, Ben, that is why (pause here for dramatic emphasis) you get to rent FOUR Blockbuster movies for grandma's house!! Isn't that gonna be cool?!?"
"But Maaaamaaaa, I don't waaaant you and Daddy to be gone for four days. I want to be with you guys aaaaall the time."
We have been telling Ben about our upcoming "Mommy and Daddy Vacation" for a few days now. I think it just hit him today that maybe, just maybe, he might have a problem with it. It seems that 4 rental movies do not cancel out 4 days of no Mama and Dada. Darn.
Hubby and I are big believers in spending quality grown-up couple time together. We do not think a fancy dinner can be romantic with 2 children sitting at the table with us (in spite of what some parents we know tell us...repeatedly). We do not think a family vacation--although wonderful in its own right--is as relaxing or as recharging for the marriage as a true getaway all alone. I realize that not everyone has this option. We do. We have my mom, Babysitter Extraordinaire. We are lucky. Really lucky.
So we will be leaving in exactly 40 hours (um, ehem, approximately), and we will tap into our Old Selves. The ones we were before we were Mama and Daddy. The ones we were when we met. And dated. And held hands. And kissed. And giggled. And flirted. And, uh, other stuff. It's hard to be Those People in our daily lives. It's hard to...and we try, Lord knows, we try. We reach out across the expanse of our family room, strewn with rattles, Hot Wheels cars, balls, books, and Nerf darts, and we try to reconnect as often as possible. With winks. With kisses. With smiles. With hugs. And after we put the boys down to sleep, we try to, with some regularity, open a bottle of wine, put on some music, talk (yes, really talk) and love each other. On the best nights, it feels like old times. On the worst nights, we're too tired to even bother with any of it. On most nights, we manage to steal an hour to ourselves before we collapse with exhaustion. This is Our Lives right now. It's what we want. But it's hard.
If you're lucky enough to be parenting with someone you'd still marry all over again, then it can definitely be more rewarding, but in some ways it can make day-to-day life even more frustrating. Because when you actually like the person you're parenting with, when you actually miss him even though he's still right there, living with you, sleeping in your bed, making breakfast with you everyday, helping you turn little boys into men, well, then it can be doubly hard because it's the parenting that's keeping you apart. So to have four...count 'em...four whole days and nights to OURSELVES on a cruise ship...away from the Real World, away from Our Current Lives, away from...yes, The Kids...it will be heaven. But as I finalize my packing, as I count down the last few hours, as I get my passport ready, I realize that I am leaving behind 2 little boys...one who will notice our absence, really notice it, for the first time, and in spite of the promises of Blockbuster movies, special outings with the grandparents, no bedtimes, and extra candy, well...the truth of the matter is, fortunately or unfortunately, he still likes being with us best.
So when I heard the panic creeping into his voice today, I felt a bit of the same panic creeping into me. Not so much because I will miss him, but because I want him to behave for Grandma and Grandpa...I want him to have fun...I want him to be happy...and, I have to admit, I want to leave guilt-free. And if he is clinging to my leg upon my departure, it will take me more than a couple of umbrella drinks to unwind and really let go. And letting go is the whole purpose of this trip.
I think I'm gonna need a lot of singles for the bartenders.