A few weeks ago, on my birthday, my husband gave me a birthday card. We were sitting in Chevy's surrounded by our boys and the chaos that is a family friendly restaurant at dinner time. It was the end of a long day and I was ready for this particular birthday to be over. But first we needed to celebrate. I needed to open the birthday cards my boys had each selected and be awed and humored and adoring. When I opened my husband's card I found a piece of paper inside. It was a reservation for two nights at a nearby hotel, nearby but far enough away to actually be away. It was a hotel we had stayed in together years ago when my parents still watched the kids for us so we could get away for a night while they visited us. Now though I would be going alone.
Two nights away. Two mornings without kids talking loudly in the next room or waking me up to ask when they could play video games. Alone. Quiet except for the noise I made myself or allowed in through the tv or music. It sounded heavenly, and yet it sounded a bit sad. Sad that all I want in life right now is time away from my own family. Sad that sleep was becoming my highest wish in life. Sad that my summer had come crashing down on me with fighting and attitudes, shouting and regrets, exhausted mornings and irresponsible late nights.
It has been a long, long summer. The hardest summer of my life. I had been so looking forward to being free of the schedules and requirements that school brings. I had been planning on adventures and time together with my boys. I had dreams of writing a book with them, each adding characters and scenes. I had plans to hang out with friends and wile away the afternoons while the kids played happily in the background. While we have had a few adventures this summer and have sat around the pool or park on a few occasions with friends, somewhere along the way, probably within the first full week, the wheels fell off the bus and my grand plans were throw out. Survival became the theme of my summer. Getting through it and getting the kids all back to school became my focus.
And that is where I was when I left on Friday for my two nights away. Those two nights became not about writing, or reading, or spending time doing grown up things. Those two nights became about what I was leaving behind, not what I was getting to do. Those two nights became about doing nothing. I watched trashy tv and stayed in my pajamas past noon. I finished reading one book and started another. I spent time wasting time. And then I regretted wasting the time, not because I didn't enjoy myself but because I should be doing something more productive, yes? So I took a shower, put on clothes, and went out into the world. I sat at Starbucks and actually worked on my book edits for a bit. I saw a movie in a theater. Once I was done doing something, I went back to the quiet room. The one without any demands or expectations. The one where no one knew my name and I had no responsibilities.
It wasn't until the second night that I felt relaxed in the room. It wasn't until the second morning that I was actually able to sleep in. It wasn't until brunch on that second morning that I actually wanted to leave the room, actually wanted to do something productive. I went to brunch and started working again but this time because I wanted to. Sitting in the cafe eating brioche french toast, listening to Pandora, reading my rough draft, felt good. I felt like me, the real me, the me beyond a mom to my boys.
It took two nights to decompress enough to finally enjoy the moment I had before me.
And then it was time to go home.
And now my little one keeps coming in wanting help with finding new iphone games.
And I have to remember to get kids snacks.
And there is laundry to fold.
And all I want to do is get back to the work that I love.
Maybe two nights is not enough.
But they were a nice two nights.