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8 Days without Kids

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Momlogic's Julie says when her husband decided to take the kids to New York for eight days, she thought it would be heaven. But she was surprised when it wasn't all bliss.

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When my husband announced he was taking our two kids (ages 4 and 7) to NYC for 8 days to visit his family, I was psyched.

Eight days to do whatever I wanted! I couldn't even imagine the freedom. This is the longest I will have been alone in seven-and-a-half years, since my son was born.

In my mind, I imagined going to dinner after work, catching movies, getting things done around the house, and cramming seven years worth of all the activities I've missed over the years into one week.

Enter reality.

Don't get me wrong -- I did do some of the fun stuff I'd planned. I went out for dinner a few times, both alone and with friends. I went shopping once. I had girlfriends over for a margarita party. I got my hair done.

But what I hadn't factored in is how tired I would be after work. I imagined going out -- to the movies, to a massage, to meet friends for a drink. Instead, most nights, I just lounged around and went to bed. When my kids are home, I am forced to muster up the energy to be active and engaging from the second I get home from the office until the moment they go to bed. But when I wasn't forced to be "on," I found myself much more tired. I didn't do one thing around the house. My big to-do list -- for the most part -- went untouched.

I also gained a new appreciation for my husband. Without him there to cook me yummy meals, I had takeout most nights. That got old fast. When I saw a mouse in my house for the first time in my life, I was the one who had to go to the hardware store and buy the humane no-kill trap. When I managed to trap the mouse, I was almost too scared to release it outside. In that moment, I missed my man more than ever.

We also experienced an earthquake while my family was gone. I was happy they had been spared having to go through it, but I just wanted to hug my kids at the end of that day -- and they were 3000 miles away.

I realized I was missing a lot by not being on their trip: I wasn't there to see my daughter experience her first Broadway show, The Little Mermaid. I didn't witness my son seeing the Empire State Building for the first time. When he told me about losing a tooth on the trip, I almost cried.

After being on the road for eight days without me, my husband sounded worn out and tired. When he told me at times the kids were acting up, I felt helpless over the phone. Not being able to be there and do something (even if there was nothing I really could have done) was like torture.

Since having children, I often idealize and romanticize what it's like to be kid-free. It must be unbelievably fabulous -- going out every night, cavorting, and partying, right?

Wrong.

It's fun being kid-free, but it's not always fab, I discovered. And while there are many wonderful things about having no strings and being able to do whatever you want, it's also great to have people who are waiting for you to get home every night and doing things together as a family.

Tonight when I pick my family up from the airport, I will hug them a bit harder and hold on tight, because absence has certainly made my heart grow fonder.

And when the kids are fighting and driving me nuts by the time we get home, I'll read this again to remind myself why I missed them so much in the first place.


next: Commercials Making Kids Fat?
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
BM August 2, 2008, 3:38 PM

I had the reverse— wife gone the kids for a week. And its true, if I were alone all the time I might fall into a rut— the grass is not always greener

Anonymous August 2, 2008, 4:22 PM

my husband was gone with my kids for 12 days and I almost died from loneliness! I guess I”m pathetic. when they’re around I’d do anything for time away. When I have it, I don’t want it. Isn’t that always the way!

lisa August 12, 2008, 10:21 PM

Kids are over rated and you know it!!!!
That is the truth.

Anonymous August 13, 2008, 9:31 AM

lisa, with a comment like that I think I know you… only a girl from the ‘wood could make me laugh like that! I think that its worth every effort to find things we enjoy doing alone, and relish that time when we do get it, because in the future we will have our ‘alone time’ back as our kids head into adulthood, and will need to find fulfillment beyond our children’s lives.

Ju March 24, 2009, 9:08 PM

My husband went to the States for 3 wks with our daughter to visit the family in WI, and I cried the moment I got home to an empty house. It took me a week before I ventured out with my sister and do anything other than mope. I slept in my daughter’s room because I was so lonely, I hugged her stuffed animals because I got nightmares. I think I’ll do better next time they go together(I didn’t go the first time b/c I didn’t have enough leave time), It was just the shock of them being gone, even though I took them to the bus terminal to get to their flight.

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