As I write this, I’m sitting in front of a fireplace, in a cozy house in Maine. My husband is reading, one child is sleeping, and the other is using the new set of colored pencils she purchased this afternoon. It is quiet and peaceful, and I feel more relaxed than I’ve been in a while. We have done something rare—gone away for a long weekend.
It’s not that we never going anywhere. We make frequent trips to visit family and friends in Boston, and we make an annual journey back to Ireland for several weeks to visit my husband’s family. But as much as we enjoy those trips, they are places familiar to us where we spend much of our time zooming here and there, catching up with people we don’t get a chance to see very often.
This weekend is something different. This weekend it is just the four of us, in a town none of us has ever been, without the usual rhythm or routine of a weekend at home.
Once upon a time, my husband loved to travel. I’m more of a homebody, but that’s not the real reason we never go away. First there was all of the baby equipment—the pack n play and baby monitor, bottles, formula, and binkies, strollers and sleep sacks, the list was endless. Then there was the nap cycle, a much-needed break that kept at least one of us chained to the house for several hours in the middle of the day. Not to mention that by the end of the week, we are all darn tired. Add to that living on an island where it takes about an hour just to get to the mainland. Travelling is hard work, and I like my own bed
And yet, after spending several weeks with our two children last summer in Ireland and flying home with them on my own (seven hour flight + overnight stay in hotel + car journey + boat ride=possible hell), I made a remarkable discovery. They were okay. I wasn’t weighed down with gear like a mule, no one fell apart (for more than a few minutes), and they were actually quite pleasant to be with. It gave me a boost of confidence that maybe we were ready to make another trip closer to home.
Last night when we got stuck in traffic, a voice in my head started saying, “See, this is why you never go anywhere!” But then we arrived and settled in to the lovely house we’re staying, and I watched my daughters' excitement as they set up for one of their infrequent sleepovers. We’re doing all right, I thought.
Today we ventured out to do some shopping, and I knew it was all going to blow up in my face. Shopping with kids—does it ever go well? But they ended up surprising me again, my younger daughter somehow occupying herself with a shoe display while the older one helped me find a pair of shoes. In another shop, the younger one played at the jewelry rack, the older one tried out the price scanner, and my husband used the fitting room. We had lunch in a restaurant where the girls tried their first oysters (a semi success) and ended the day in a toy store.
Were there a few tears? Of course. Was there sporadic fighting and fussing? Yes, I suppose a little bit, this is family life, after all. But was there laughing, singing in the car, morning glory muffins, unexpected presents, and the start of a weekend we’ll remember? Most definitely.