I have heard that you can't appreciate the sunshine without a little rain. I've heard that we can't comprehend the joys of our lives without also experiencing sorrow. I counter that you will forget how to enjoy your children if you never take a step away from them.
I spend a lot of time on my kids. I am either with them in person or thinking about them while they are at school. They consume many of my thoughts during the day; worrying about them, missing them, remembering that funny thing they did this morning.
Last year when we were getting to know some new student employees, my boss had us each go around and say a few things about myself. I mentioned that I had three kids and listed their ages, grades and hobbies. My boss looked at me and said, "Okay, but what about you?" It was embarrassingly hard to think of something to say about myself that did not involve my children.
Don't get me wrong-I love my kids. I love being a mom. But sometimes I forget how to be my own person. I find myself watching cartoons on TV almost exclusively. I read books from their shelf or from their backpacks. I have filled my tablet and phone with games for them.
But to be totally honest, they wear me out sometimes! They misbehave. They make messes. They fight with each other. I get tired of constantly being the chef, referee and drill sergeant. Ken's schedule has been great this semester for him to be able to take the kids to their extra-curricular activities, but for the regular nights at home, I am usually on my own. By the time we get through homework, dinner, baths and bedtime, I am too exhausted to enjoy the brief moment I have to myself before Ken gets home.
When the opportunity arose for my kids and husband to be gone at the same time, I will admit to feeling a little bit giddy! I started making plans in my head for all the things I could do, knowing full well that I only had half of Saturday and most of Sunday to myself. Part of me really wanted to do a bunch of cleaning and laundry. Part of me wanted to just sit on the couch and read a book. I ended up doing a little cleaning, along with a movie marathon and some reading. I went to Mass Saturday night with a friend and then stayed in bed reading until 2:00 on Sunday (with a brief trip to the kitchen to grab a bowl of cereal). On Sunday, I ran a few errands and read some more. I mostly ignored the Internet and my phone. I listened to the house being quiet. I allowed myself to feel a little bit lonely. I texted Ken. I called the kids. Then I enjoyed the silence for a bit more.
My neighbor down the street cannot believe that my children are willing to spend time away from me and me from them. Apparently her daughter didn't spend the night away from home until she was much older. In fact, her daughter has just recently moved back in with her at the age of 50ish. I can't imagine never getting a break like that.
I am fortunate that my parents are willing and able to take the kids for extended periods. My grandparents were never close enough for me to spend time with them regularly. I am fortunate that my kids LOVE going to spend the weekend (or week) with their grandparents. I am glad that the calendars aligned to give me some time to myself to do what ever I wanted. And I am excited that when I get home from work this evening, there will be three adorable little faces waiting for me when I walk in the door! (And Ken too, but "adorable" is a little bit juvenile to describe him) :)