The other week I did something which I could have felt guilty about as a mom.
I jumped on a plane with only one of my sons to visit a dear friend interstate, leaving my other kid to hang out with his dad for a few days.
One got a holiday and the other had to go to school! Yeah, it really wasn’t fair.
I told myself this was to spend quality time with my little guy, but the truth is, I’d needed respite from his brother – my more needy kid who I love with all my heart, but who also drains me.
Little did I know though that this would be the best thing for every member of my family, especially my big boy.
Here’s what happened
“I was exhausted”
Like most moms, I haven’t had a break in a long time. Too long. I’ve been stressed and run down.
There has been a lot of stuff going on (health-wise and other) but I also know the constant momming of one of my kids, in particular, has added to this feeling of overwhelm. He has special needs so it’s totally not his fault.
I think it’s OK though to admit this – that one kid might sap you of energy more than the others do. When I think about my friends with kids, I think most of them have a child who requires a little or a lot more of their love and attention, but can also trigger more feelings of “I’m not doing enough for them” as a parent.
So I knew I needed a break from one of my kids, and that I also wanted some quality time with the other one – my little self-sufficient guy who too often doesn’t get his fair share of me.
Since I’d taken my eldest away solo a few years back, I decided it was my youngest’s turn – and this is what I explained to my big boy.
He was upset initially as he couldn’t remember catching a plane and felt miffed he was missing out, but eventually, he accepted it. He’d also bribed his dad into letting him have all sorts of junk food while we were away as compensation. He was OK by the time we left!
Then the magic happened.
“I felt free”
The minute I reversed out of the driveway to head to the airport, I felt my chest release and happiness I haven’t felt in a while come bubbling to the surface. I squealed in excitement and my little boy chimed in.
It was almost as though everything I’d hoped this getaway would deliver was gifted to me before I’d even driven to the airport. I felt free, energetic, and light!
Just the act of putting myself first and doing something I knew I needed was healing in itself. Sometimes it’s not about achieving the ‘thing’ you feel you need, but just making a decision to seek it.
And then it got even better.
“The best medicine”
Of course, a few days with my beautiful friend staying in her hinterland home was the icing on the cake.
There is NOTHING more restorative than nattering away with a good friend. Someone who just gets you and you, her. We laughed, we shared, we unburdened ourselves of all the mom and life crap and we both felt uplifted and rejuvenated.
It was also lovely to meet her new baby and watch all the other kids go crazy together, blissfully ignoring us. My cup was overflowing with happiness by the time we left.
As I watched the clouds turn sunset pink on the flight back, I felt pangs of mom guilt that I hadn’t taken my big boy along for the adventure. I’d been checking in with him the whole time and he seemed happy, but I still worried he might feel jealous or be upset with me.
I shouldn’t have worried.
My son ran into my arms at the airport filled with joy.
He’d missed us too. For the first time in a long time, his energy felt calm (and as moms, we pick up on that, right?).
On the drive home I heard all about the wonderful bonding time my husband had had with him and how easy and good he was. They both enjoyed having a quiet house for a few days and it was obvious they also felt like they’d had a holiday.
I came home a better mom for him. A happier mom. But best of all, I also came home to a relaxed and content boy. He’d needed a break from me too, I think.
I have pinky sworn to him though that the next time I jump on a plane to visit my friend, it’s HIS turn. Nothing beats one on one time with each kid (if you can swing it). And sometimes it’s nice to have a break from their sibling/s too.
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