Like pretty much every mom I know, I love spending time with my kids. I love cuddling on the couch and reading books with them. I love going on adventures and seeing new places through their eyes. I love impromptu ice cream dates and unscheduled days that we fill with family fun. But I also absolutely love my time away from them, and truth? When I do get a break from them, I don't miss them one little bit.
In the past, I've wondered if the detachment I feel for my children when they're not in my physical presence makes me a bad mom, but I've come to the decision that it actually makes me a good one (I realize this conclusion lies in the category of convenient theories for me). As a stay-at-home, work-from-home mom, I spend so much time with my kids that escaping them shouldn't and doesn't make me feel guilty; it feels like a necessary recharging of my parenting battery.
Last month, my husband and I spent a weekend away about an hour from home. He arrived Friday night after work; I made sure to book a babysitter so I could take off by lunch time, giving me a glorious afternoon in a hotel room by myself. I read part of a book, watched a kid-unfriendly movie on Netflix, and took a bath, then met him for a dinner at a place my kids would have hated, where we were served by a snooty waiter who would have had an equal level of disdain for my kids.
The next day, we woke up late, took a yoga class, shopped around, ate sushi for lunch, napped, then went to a friend's party that I spent more than an hour getting ready for, which is actually hard for me to accomplish at this point. I'm fully indoctrinated in the mom ways of getting ready in 20 minutes or less, no matter where we're going. It felt damn good to shed my mom skin for one covered in an actual full face of makeup and hair that wasn't pulled into a messy ponytail.
And while my husband and I mentioned our kids a few times during our weekend, talking about things we were excited about for them and behaviors we were hoping they'd grow out of soon, there was not one minute that I could say I really missed them. Of course, it helped that I knew they were being well taken care of by their grandparents, whom they love. They weren't suffering in my absence, but instead probably eating too many McNuggets and ice cream sundaes.
But more than any other feeling, the one I experienced most during that outing — and every other time my kids are away from me for more than a few hours — was relief. Relief that I had time to reconnect with my own needs and wants. Relief that I could read a book or take a nap or sit in a warm bath without someone pulling me away to make another snack or show me the mess they made while I let my mom guard down for a minute or two. Relief that my husband and I still liked spending time together without the two little people that both divide and unite us.
It wasn't until we pulled into the driveway the next day that I got a pang of "oh, it will be nice to see the kids." They didn't disappoint, showering us with kisses and hugs and enthusiasm for our return. It lasted about two minutes before they started fighting and demanding presents we had somehow forgotten to buy them. In life in general, they're my top priority, but when I'm away from them? I get to put myself first, and that's a thing to revel in.