In front of the Yoga gym at Rancho

I miss you, little blog, but summer is kicking my butt.  Well, summer plus having my husband on the other side of the world (New Zealand) for a week.  It seems I wake up with the kids and go to sleep with the kids.  We’ve had a lot of fun so far, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t exhausted or in a state of shock over how little I can get done in a day (read: nothing).  Until yesterday, the house looked like a tornado blew through.   I managed to get it serviceable just in time to host the Margareaders last night.  Today I have to get us all ready to go on respective trips tomorrow, which is not easy to do with a multi-margarita hangover (note to self: this is why you can’t drink like that anymore!).  Phil and the kids are going to Virginia for a visit with grandparents and cousins (and for Phil to work), and I am off to Tecate, Mexico for a spa trip with my BFF from VA.

Yes, you read that correctly: a trip to the spa — Rancho la Puerta — for a whole week!

I’ve been going away by myself once a year ever since Phil and I have been together (even before we had kids).  Not to a spa every year of course, but at least away from the house and “real life.”  I think it is so crucial for everyone to spend time alone, recharging their batteries – doing whatever they need to do to hit the reset button on themselves.  After I had kids, many people my own age would look askance at me when I told them my plans, saying things like, “Wow, you’re so lucky,” or “Who will take care of the kids while you’re gone?” or “You must have a very supportive husband.”

Here’s the truth:  I am lucky, but not because of the trip away.  The trips don’t happen by accident.  I plan them, work for them, and pay for them.  As for who will take care of the children, uh… their father.  You know – the other parent.  We get help for daytime care, same as when I worked full time, but he’s on duty in the evenings, just like I am all the umpteen times he is out of town.  And yes, my husband is very supportive, and believe me I appreciate him.  He was in New Zealand this past week on business, and I supported him taking a few extra days to fly around in helicopters, jump off buildings (seriously!) and visit a fly fishing lodge.  It goes both ways.  Everyone needs a break now and then.  But I’ll bet not one person asked him who was taking care of the kids in his absence.

I’ve been to Rancho before, and there are many older women who go regularly.  Here’s what they usually say to me when they hear that I have young kids: “Good for you!” or “You’re very wise to take time for yourself while your kids are young because that’s when you need it most,” or “I wish I had done more of that myself when my kids were younger.”  Amen to that point of view!

If it sounds like I am a little defensive, well, I am — a little.  I used to travel a lot for work too, and I would still get the question about the kids.  It was as if people thought I had abandoned them at home with nothing but a tray of food and water.  It got to the point that I did start to feel guilty about going away on my own.  Did needing a break for myself mean I was a not as good of a mother?  Over time, I realized that the answer to that question was a resounding no.  In fact, I am a much better mother as a result of taking “restorative” time.

Ironically, I never feel judged by my own family.  Phil and the kids have not only accepted the trips, they encourage me to take them.  I did, however, feel outside pressure from others.  I didn’t stop taking the time away, but I did stop talking about it openly.  Now I realize that hiding or downplaying the fact that I take time away is just as silly as feeling guilty.  In fact, I’d rather discuss it more and encourage more people to do the same – men, women, parents, non-parents.  I guarantee I am a much better wife and mother as a result of the time away.  I am also teaching my children that part of loving and respecting yourself requires being with yourself.  Kids need to learn the importance of self-nurture before they reach adulthood.  Also, I think it’s a good thing for kids to understand that their parents have their own inner lives that, while connected to theirs, are also separate and deserving of respect.  In our family, we strive for balance between family time, grown-up time, time for each parent to be alone with the kids, for each parent to have one on one time with each child, and finally, individual time.  Then we add in time with extended family and friends.  All are important and necessary.

I don’t have to search very far for additional “justification.”  Here is just a partial list of the roles I play in the family during the 51 weeks of the year that I am not away from them.  I’m sure your own lists would be just as comprehensive.  So go ahead – take that break!

  • Childcare provider
  • Nurse
  • Cook
  • Meal planner
  • Vacation planner
  • Vacation packer
  • Gardener
  • Housekeeper
  • Banker
  • Chauffeur
  • Event photographer/videographer
  • Dog walker
  • Dog groomer
  • Playdate scheduler/supervisor
  • Teacher/Tutor
  • Storyteller/Reader
  • Librarian
  • Personal shopper
  • Administrative Assistant (filing, schedule appointments, keep calendar..)
  • Party planner
  • Grocery shopper
  • PTO member
  • School volunteer
  • Laundress
  • Therapist
  • Cheerleader
  • Human pillow
  • Activity planner
  • Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy
  • Keeper of the family soul

And so on…

I will try to post from the Ranch next week, but I can’t promise.  In the meantime, Gratitude Sunday will post as usual.  If I get too blissed out to post, I’ll recap when I get back.  Happy week everyone!

Jane and me at Rancho last year. See how happy we look?

Categories: Entertaining, Family, Friendship, Summer, Travel · Tags: , , , ,

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2 Comments

  1. Don’t worry about posting while you’re gone — you’ll only feel guilty if you don’t. Enjoy Rancho — looks amazing!

  2. I agree with all of the above, Julie. Every word. You make a lot of very pertinent points and say it all really well. And unfortunately this still needs being said.
    I hope (know) you’re having a great time!

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