Almost every mother that I know has talked about craving a bit of a retreat. Categorically, this may include an afternoon of shopping, a massage, a night or two away with your mate, or, at the very minimum, an uninterrupted coffee break. At this point in my motherhood, I have experienced all of these types of retreats. I know that you will appreciate it when I say that some of these were blissful, and others had me squirming uncomfortably as I wondered how the kids were doing at the same time as feeling gutted over my guilt at leaving them.
This year, an opportunity came my way that redefined my definition of “me” time. My heart chimed in excitement of this new possibility—a trip to Italy! A group of women from all over the world travelling together—my own personal EAT, PRAY, LOVE. I thought about how I had never left the continent, and at the age of forty-one, it would be a dream come true. Then I thought about my children, and that everyone else in my life would most likely think I was having a midlife crisis.
Here’s the deal, though—I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind.
I even mentioned it to my husband and best friend, and, surprisingly, my supportive husband thought it would be wonderful and my friend said, “Go for it.” I realized the only thing holding me back was, you guessed it, me! Could I pull away from my life and my role as a mother? When I mentioned the trip to my sweet daughter, whose comment was wise beyond her six years, she told me she would miss me, but that she knew I would have a great time.
Okay, I booked the trip!
I made what seemed like a million lists for my husband and mother-in-law, and I packed my bags. I am not going to glamorize what I call the "extraction process." The night before leaving, I was completely unsettled. I almost dreaded our bedtime routine with the girls, because I was worried I would sob as I tucked them into bed. But I will glamorize the trip.
It was spectacular—the food, the landscape, and the wonderful people that I met—but the most spectacular part of all is what was waiting for me when I arrived home after eleven days. There was my husband, smiling, and my two daughters, jumping and squealing with glee. My six-year-old handed me a picture that she drew of me looking like a superhero with power coming out of my hands and feet. She said, “Mommy, that is you in all your power.” I felt like I had truly arrived!
Have you ever been on a family-free trip? How did it go? How did your kids react?