I never thought I’d be the type. I love my husband and my kids, and I love being with them. So why would I even think about taking separate vacations?
The idea germinated in January while we were in Kansas visiting my husband’s mom and other family. It’s a seven-hour drive, but we go several times a year. Generally speaking, I love going because I have the world’s best in-laws. But last time we went, my mother-in-law had to work most of the time we were there, and my grandmother-in-law was off in Texas visiting other kinfolk. Grandma is apparently the life of the party, because it just wasn’t the same without her.
One day while we were there, my husband was in the living room watching football, and the children were outside, I don’t know, hunting possum or something. I went to the bedroom and tried to find something to watch. I’m not much of a television person, so this was a desperate last resort. As I flipped around the channels, my husband came in and said cheerfully, “Hey! Look at you! This is like a vacation for you!”
Um, well, not really. It was more like a prison sentence. I thought about how much I’d rather be at home right then with my computer; my own comfy bed; my complete lack of bitey, allergen-factory dogs, and my own food and beverage choices. Even better, I thought about how our house was empty at that very moment. So peaceful and quiet and alone. And thus the idea of separate vacations was born.
I didn’t mention it at first. I figured it was just a pipe dream. But when my husband annoyed me on the way home, I blurted out, “Why am I even here? I’m not going next time!” We both knew I was bluffing (and blowing off steam), but I kept thinking about it. A few weeks ago, when my husband announced his plans to go to Kansas for four days during the kids’ spring break, I mulled over the idea again. I hesitantly mentioned it to my husband, and he sounded kind of hurt and disappointed, but he said okay. Once he got over the initial surprise, he grew more comfortable with the idea. I vacillated about it for a while because I felt like I was abandoning him, but when I remembered that I had a long-ago-scheduled doctor’s appointment on one of the Kansas days, I knew I’d been handed a Get Out Of Jail card.
I was afraid my mother-in-law would be offended, but she’s a wise woman. She understands. She even said that she was envious of me. She loves it when her husband leaves town. They seem to have a great marriage, so maybe she’s on to something.
On the morning they left, I almost backed out and went with them when my husband gave me a pained look and said, “You could still go, you know.” But he knew how much I was looking forward to my alone time, and he didn’t want me to miss my doctor’s appointment, so he did his best to be supportive. Just after dawn, I stood at the front door waving and watching them back down the driveway. As they disappeared from sight, I paused in wonderment at the concept: Four days to myself!
Free at last!
Since my daughter was born nearly 11 years ago, I’ve seldom had the opportunity to be home alone. The last time was over two years ago.
Why is alone time—a separate vacation—so delightful?
- I don’t have to cook! But if I do, I don’t have to worry about pleasing picky palates. If I cook something healthy, there’s no one to say, “Ewww,” and if I cook something unhealthy, I don’t have to feel guilty about feeding my family with it.
- No messes! A husband and two kids produce a staggering amount of mess each day.
- No interruptions! I can work on any project without worrying about having to pick someone up or take someone somewhere, or having a remote-control helicopter crash land on my head.
- I get to set the bedtime!
- I get the remote!
- The bedcovers (and the bed) are all mine!
- Peace and quiet! I can read and focus and just relax.
- No need to shave my legs! Yeah, okay, maybe I let them go a few days at a time in the winter, anyway, but now I don’t have to feel self-conscious about it.
Having said all that, I do miss everyone, but I’m going to enjoy all the benefits while I have them. I’ve been alone less than 48 hours now, and I feel so refreshed and decompressed, and I’ve gotten a lot done. I hope to do this again, a few days to myself, at least a couple of times a year. I would gladly take the kids somewhere so my husband could also enjoy some solitude, but he said he isn’t interested. Maybe he gets sufficient alone time in his office at work each day. Or maybe some people just don’t feel the need for it. But I do.
I’m so glad my husband (and the kids) didn’t try to guilt me into going with them, and that they’ve been so supportive. I look forward to all the family trips we have in our future, and maybe even an occasional parent-only trip. Trips are a wonderful bonding experience. But this time, my staying home, taking a separate vacation, was good for all of us.