As I write, it is 5:53am–July 4th. In very little time, the house will be abuzz with kid noise, exuberant energy levels, requests to go to the park and go swimming (we are still at my parents’ house where we the kids have reveled in the opportunity to splash around in Nana and Poppa’s backyard swimming pool once or twice a day). We will have the opportunity to spend the day not only with my parents, by my aunt and uncle and grandmother as well. A rare opportunity, on my side of the family.
Later on, the kids will start asking about fireworks, and Andrew and I will have to make the executive decision as to whether or not we allow our three, five-years-old and under children stay up to see the fireworks from the nearby town, off the back deck of my parents’ new home. Tomorrow, we will make the six-hour drive back to Bozeman, so keeping the kids up late could be a great thing–if it tires them out to the point they sleep a lot in the car the next day (as opposed to just being plain-old cranky and not sleeping at all).
The last two weeks have been a great break from every-day life: time spent with my parents, a fabulous (albeit materialism-drenched) seven days in San Diego promoting my book, hanging with friends, and yes, enjoying a few kid-free days. It’s not that we didn’t miss our kids terribly–and call them once, if not twice, each day while we were gone–but knowing they were well cared for and enjoying their time with Nana and Poppa while Mommy and Daddy were going for long runs together, eating in restaurants and drinking mojitos without packing bags full of crayons, toys and other kid-distractor tools…going shopping and getting in and out of the car at least six times without dealing with the buckling and unbuckling of kids in car seats…attending cocktail parties, book club gatherings, and exercise classes without having to race home and relieve the babysitter (and fork over $40)…it was all quite lovely. And rejuvenating.
The point is: every parent needs a break from their reality of being a parent once in a while. It makes you a better parent. Who doesn’t return to their job after vacation refreshed and ready to delve in again? Even if that break is a short one. And sometimes a false break at that–because who ever really stops being a parent, even if they’re on vacation, sans kids? I can’t speak for fathers directly, but I sure can confirm that the Mommy Brain is always operating, even when 500 miles away from the children. Even while vacationing and having conversations like, “oh, Ellie would love that ballerina mirror in the store we were just in…Landon would’ve had a GREAT time running around the beach and in and out of the waves, Bitsy would have…been stuck to Mommy, as usual, at that party…but he would’ve been the cutest one there…”
So, my huge, enormous, hear-felt thanks goes out to my mom and dad for keeping our three ruffians while Andrew and I took our little break from parenting reality this past week. For taking them to “Bug Class,” swimming, the toy store, the park, for dealing with our boys’ few remaining food allergies, for reading them endless books, for guiding them through daily art projects, for allowing them to drive Poppa’s fancy remote-control car in the driveway, and sit in the Porsche and pretend they were driving “a real race car,” for letting them play the vintage, full-sized arcade Packman game, for introducing them to Arthur books, and for loving them just like Andrew and I love them. And an even bigger thanks goes to them for actually allowing us to stay with them for a few extra days after Andrew’s and my return from CA, despite the fact they were probably exhausted from the constant energy flow of the children (and waking up at 5:00, or 6:00 or 2:06am with Gabriel). It’s not often enough that I get to spend some extended time with my mom and dad–and it’s been worth every second of it.
So, we’re on our way back home to Bozeman tomorrow. And while a part of me is looking forward to making it back to our home base, a larger part of me is already sad to leave, and nostalgic for the time spent here.
If you, my few and dedicated readers, have plans to spend time with your extended family on this holiday, I hope you too make every second count. In a busy, go…go…go world, it’s great–no, absolutely necessary–to stop and really enjoy those moments of extended family congregation and support.