The Mom-cation: 6 Things I Learned While On Vacation Without My Kids

VacationThe Mom-cation. It’s the unicorn of all vacation events. It’s a rare and almost mythical event that occurs when you have a chance to go on a vacation…wait for it….WITHOUT KIDS. Sometimes it’s with your partner. Sometimes it’s with friends. But whatever it is, it’s glorious.

The mom-cation is not something that comes to many of us. In fact, it’s often something we only dream of. But recently, I had this #momgoals of all events land in my lap. My girls were going to be with their dad for a week, then on to grandma’s house. This meant I had two amazing, sparkling, fairytale vacation weeks ahead of me. And you had better believe I made the most of it.

Without getting into details (I would hate to make anyone too jealous), I planned an epic adventure. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. But location and vacation awesomeness aside, what struck me the most was the little things.

I thought I would sink into a state of child-free euphoria, all of my stresses and worries left behind. I imagined sleeping in every morning. I imagined lazy afternoons by a pool. I pictured myself spending every waking second soaking in the carefree nature of my temporary existence. But what actually happened surprised me.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally kid-freed the HECK out of my vacation. I reveled in every second of my self-titled “Mom-cation,” but it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

What I thought it would be was a return to my former self. That person that I was before I had kids. But instead, I was struck by a number of revelations. Namely these:

1. That young person that used to go on vacation? Yeah. She got old. Like, really old.

Turns out, you can change time zones, but you can’t turn back the clock. That girl that used to be able to party until all hours, especially on vacation, apparently fell asleep somewhere in 2004 and hasn’t woken up since. In her place is a rather placid adult who thinks that 9:30 pm is a more than reasonable bedtime. And all this time I had been blaming my kids for my need to sleep at a “reasonable hour.” Nope. Turns out I really like it. Like, really. In fact, some nights I was asleep by 8:30 pm. Back home, I usually don’t even have dinner made by then. Who knew?

2. My kids aren’t the only reason I get up early.

Gaaaahhh. I hate to admit this one. I am a self-proclaimed anti-morning person. I don’t like early alarms. I “snooze” three times regularly before finally dragging myself out of bed. I can’t speak before coffee. And I fantasize about the days of my youth when I could sleep until noon. Wait. Until noon?! WHO DOES THAT?! How can you possibly get anything done? Even on vacation, I felt like I had wasted a whole day if I wasn’t up by 7:30 am. Former me would sooooo hate current me. Actually, maybe not. They would never be awake at the same time so it wouldn’t even matter.

3. I love silence.

I know most of you are saying, “Ummmmm, of course. What parent doesn’t?” But think about it. We talk about how much we want silence in the same breath that we talk about how much we miss listening to music that isn’t the soundtrack from Moana, how much we wish we could just watch TV in peace, and how we wish we could get through a phone conversation without the sound of hostage negotiations between siblings being shouted in the background.

We don’t necessarily want silence. We just want to not hear our kids. But when was the last time you actually just sat and listened to silence? As in absolute total quiet? Even at home, I feel the need to fill the void with something.

But on mom-cation? More than once, I found myself just sitting. With nothing else happening. It was like the sound of angels. Only quieter. This is something we should all try at home…every chance we get. Turns out, our thoughts are actually pretty amazing things.

4. I don’t need to talk to my kids, or even know what they’re doing, all the time.

At home, like any responsible parent, I need to know where my kids are at all times. If they don’t touch base when promised, it’s going to be a cell phone explosion. I feel a physical vibration when I don’t know their location. I ache to my core if I don’t know what’s going on or how they are doing every day.  And I think that’s a good thing…for the most part. But on mom-cation, I let go…just a little bit. I actually allowed other people to take the reins.

I thought it would be a lot harder than it was. But, as it turns out, I am not the only human on the planet capable of keeping my kids safe. This might be something worth remembering in my normal life. Just saying,

5. I have a name. And it’s not “mom.”

Every new mom knows that feeling when you’re in public and you hear a baby cry. If you’re still nursing, you might have the mortifying moment where your lactation impulses kick in. But even if you’re not nursing, or never did, you still feel your heart seize up – even when your own baby is in your arms. That never really changes.

Even as my kids have gotten older, I still spin around like a highly trained ninja the moment I hear the word “mom.” And to be honest, the sound of my own name (the one my parents gave me, that is), took me awhile to get used to while on vacation. I think I’ll try using it more often.

Instead of introducing myself as “<insert child’s name here>’s mom,” I’ll try my own for a change. Who knows, I might just learn to like it.

6. I’ll never be the person I used to be.

Just like a bell that can’t be unrung, kids change you in a way that can’t be changed. At the risk of sounding like an EMO teenager taking a gap year, I thought a mom-vacation would help me “find myself again.”  No, I was not trying to eat, pray, love my way back into existential existence, but I was trying to reconnect to something…something that I thought maybe I had lost, or just misplaced, along the way.

But as it turns out, I haven’t lost anything in becoming a mom. In fact, I have gained. Not only do I have three amazing daughters, but I have love for DAYS.

Simply put, I have a different path. I’m not better or worse than the person I used to be, I’m just different. I am a good mom and I love my kids infinitely. And being away from them for awhile not only helped to remind me of how much they mean to me, but it helped remind me of just how much I matter, too.

As I return to my normal life, I am bringing with me a few important reminders about who I am underneath the role of mom. And I think that it might just be that I like who I am now – which just so happens to be a person who knows how to go to bed at a reasonable hour and loves her kids. It’s a good feeling. I think I might do this mom-vacation thing more often.