About three weeks ago I blogged here about my hopes and fears as I was about to head off on vacation with friends in Italy–without my husband, and without my twin ETL 7-year-olds.
I returned yesterday from two glorious weeks spent in the art museums, galleries, streets, pubs, and restaurants of Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Rome, Italy. I couldn’t have had more great food, exercise, and quality friend time. I especially enjoyed the sorely overdue escape from my day to day reality as working mom to twins.
But how did they all fare without me? Apparently just fine. A check-in this morning with the boys teachers and special education supervisor revealed that they had no major issues or episodes in my absence. Dad, a friend, and one teacher reported that both boys were more sensitive (more easily frustrated and quicker to come to tears) near the end of my time away, but otherwise, the kids did great in school and at home!
We did a lot of preparation before I left. I sent letters to their teachers warning them that the children might struggle more in my absence. I wrote letters in advance to the boys that dad opened and read with them every three days, after which they opened a special present just from missing mommy. Girlfriends offered play dates, friends brought meals, dad had an “I didn’t go to Italy” BBQ, and dad took them to museums and play places that they only get to attend once or twice a year. The boys enjoyed so much extra love and attention while I was away that now I’m a little worried they’ll be let down now that I’m back as we return to our usual routine.
The time away was certainly a big boon for my psyche. I’ve returned refreshed, motivated about my role as a volunteer in their public school, and excited about spending more time in the moment with my boys, even if its just doing eye therapy or studying spelling words. I also have renewed respect, appreciation, and admiration for my rock-star husband. Since their birth, I’ve been the primary organizer and administrator of the children’s lives. Dad was always great at following the plan. But in my absence, my husband stepped up and reminded me that even though I take the principal responsibility, he is completely capable and competent. He brought home the bacon, took care of homework and therapies, attended curriculum night, kept the house clean, and even managed to lose a couple pounds! Look, up in the sky, it’s SUPER-DAD!
It’s a comfort to know that our world can continue to revolve in my absence; that the boys will suffer no ill effects (at least not yet!) from my choice to take time away for myself; that everything really was and will be okay–no, not just okay, but functional and stellar–in my absence.
Thanks again for your support, and if you haven’t done it yet, be sure to take a little time for yourself. You officially have my permission, for what it’s worth. It doesn’t have to be Italy. Your break can be as small as closing the door to your bedroom for 20 minutes, going for a walk by yourself, or girls (or guys) night out. Let your partner, friends, or family step up and show you that they are worthy of your gratitude and admiration. Then you can come back refreshed, more patient, more kind and loving, a better parent to your ETL child.
If you’re interested in reading about my trip (and seeing more amazing pictures), I’ll be posting at my own blog, My Wilde World, beginning tomorrow.