For our eight-year marital anniversary this year, I decided that it would be a good idea for us to get away from the kids for a few days. Knowing it would be darn near impossible, I was smart and booked a bed and breakfast a full year in advance. And for the duration of that full year, I dreamed about escaping our children Every. Single. Day.
The thought of two days alone to drink as much wine as I wanted, sleep on satin sheets, and do absolutely nothing kept me going on the long afternoons of nap-resistant toddlers, ER visits because #boymom, and the hellish hours of 3 AM night terrors with a 5-year-old who thinks more deeply than most adults. (Try explaining the meaning of life to a crying kindergartener in the middle of the night, seriously.)
But despite our best efforts, the process of actually leaving our children became a nightmare in itself. Because, of course, the little-known but always present Murphy’s Law of taking a vacation without kids:
- There will be puking. It will come when you least expect it or maybe it will arrive when you’re totally expecting it, but either way, we both know it’s coming.
- Someone will run a mysterious fever that will leave you in a panic, wondering if you should wait it out or cancel now while you can still get your money back. What if the fever breaks? But what if it doesn’t?!
- You will spend approximately 10,974 hours arranging child care. It will take longer to set up child care than your actual trip, and that’s a fact.
- With all the things that go wrong, you will wonder if the heavens above and the government are conspiring against you for leaving your own offspring.
- When you finally escape, you will do so with a mix of elation and dread — Will the children be OK? Will you have anything to talk about? Will you get a phone call to come home at 3 AM?
- You’ll spend the beginning of your ride to your vacation destination shooting sly smiles at each other. Can you taste that, honey? That’s called freedom.
- You will marvel at the most simple of things, such as both of you being able to simply exit your vehicle without unbuckling a car seat. What is this luxury?!
- You won’t be able to sleep at all your first night. It’s cruel and unjust, I know, but it’s hard to adjust to the fact that no one will be waking you up with screams, bedwetting, or demands for pancakes at 5 AM.
- It will take about half of your vacation for you both to relax enough to the point where you realize that hey, maybe you guys kind of sort of still like each other.
- You will both feel pressured to do all kinds of wild and crazy things because you’re actually not as old as you feel, but you know what feels even better? Doing absolutely nothing.
- You will be tempted to smile a knowing smile to every set of parents that you see; a smile that at once communicates the fact that you are one of them but also so, so freaking glad to not be one of them at that precise moment (Just for a little while, anyways.)
- You’ll feel a strange sense of relief and sadness when the kids really couldn’t care less when you call them to say good night. Apparently, all it takes to replace your selfless parental love is popcorn and a movie night, little traitors.
- The ride home will be filled with fear and trepidation.
- The second you walk back in the door you will be completely and totally exhausted and just thinking about unpacking will make you want to cry more than the baby already is.
- As punishment for abandoning them, your children will engage in no less than 72 hours of extra whining and clinginess just so you can remember that any “break” from parenting comes with some very serious trade-offs.
- While sitting on the couch, holding the baby that won’t let you put her down, surrounded by dirty laundry and piles of unwashed dishes, you will exchange tired glances and wonder why you ever thought leaving would be a good idea in the first place while simultaneously wishing you could go back.