Things You Learn without Your Kid
Over the 4th of July holiday, my wife and I traveled back to our hometown of Albuquerque to visit with friends and family and, most importantly, escape the hellish apocalyptic hellhole that is Phoenix during the summer. We enjoyed ourselves for the most part. We got to hang out with our families and stuffed ourselves silly with spicy New Mexican food.
It was a pleasant, relaxing trip that we like to do every now and then but this time something was different. Something I had been dreading for the weeks leading up to this mini-vacation was hanging over me like a small, dark cloud. Something that filled me with every emotion between anxiety and guilt, and I’m not even referring to the time I snuck into a movie theater to see The Notebook.
This time, as we were hopping on our return flight home, we were missing something. A great big giant something:
Our 2 year old daughter.
Like the good parents we are, we left her standing at the airport and in the ancient Spartan tradition of Agoge, of which I know nothing about except for what I learned in 300, she would be forced to find her way home, fending off beast and foe along the way. Actually, she was taking swim lessons for a week with grandma but I prefer my version better.
Of course, we’ve left our little one before. There have been trips where we had to leave her with grandma and grandpa and I’ve never had a problem with it. In fact, any parent who says they don’t need a small break from their child for the sole reason of holding what’s left of their sanity together is lying straight to your face and you should slap them for it.
However, this time, there was this strange, almost foreboding feeling about leaving her. Maybe it was the fact that she would be taking swimming lessons without us and if I wasn’t around, the absolute worst thing that could happen would. Maybe it was the fact that we were leaving her for nine days (the longest amount time we’ve been without her). Maybe it was the fact that we weren’t going on vacation and going back to our normal day-to-day lives and I wouldn’t know what to do without her. I still can’t describe the feeling or the rationality behind it and it even sounds a bit strange as I write this. I don’t even think rationality was a part of the equation. It was just a feeling and it was gnawing at me until the moment I kissed her goodbye at the airport.
Now, I’d like to preface all of this by saying that I totally trust our daughter to both sets of grandparents. In fact, I’m guessing she had more fun learning how to swim with them then suffering an Arizona summer with us. Yet that didn’t alleviate the feeling I had leading up to the return trip home.
Fast-forward to the present: time has flown by and today our baby comes home. I couldn’t be more excited to see her. Sure, I am going to miss sleeping in until 6:00AM and not having to change a black-bean-filled diaper but I really cannot wait to give her a giant hug when I get home from work this afternoon.
That being said, I learned a lot this last week and a half; about myself, about my marriage, and about what I thought my life was like before we had a child. You think that you’re going to have to time to relax and get stuff done and go out every single night and the whole time you are going to have a giant smile on your face since there aren’t dried boogers on your shirt and you’re not trying to convince your child that going out the doggie door isn’t the most convenient way to the backyard.
Strangely, some of that happens and none of that happens, all at the same time. Instead, here is what I’ve learned:
- Make a to-do list knowing full well that you’re not going to achieve everything on it. We had a lot of plans going into these nine days. Cleaning up the backyard, clearing out the junk from the garage, the usual house upkeep. Usually one of us is doing these chores while the other is trying to make sure our daughter doesn’t put a blanket over her head and run around the living room. I think we only accomplished a little more than half of what was on that list and you know what? That’s perfectly fine by me. Instead, we got to do what we’ve wanted to for a very long time: absolutely nothing. Not a single damn thing. It was pure bliss.
- You can go on a date on a Monday night! That’s right. Did you know that? Movie theaters are open during the week! We got to go see Wonder Woman and there were only four other people in the whole freaking theater. It was amazing and now I think my wife is going to leave me for Gal Gadot.
- Your house is suddenly quieter and a whole hell of a lot bigger. When we got home from the airport that first night, it was like we walked into a stranger’s house. There was suddenly an echo. It was creepy. I didn’t like it. That is all.
- Did you know you can run errands past 7:30PM? Seriously, try it! You can go to the grocery store at night without having to rush home with a wailing toddler in your backseat who is threatening to take everyone in the car hostage if she isn’t in bed in fifteen minutes.
- Suddenly, you have to relearn how to talk to your significant other. You are no longer directing most of your energy and focus toward a being who thinks your sole purpose on Earth is to put on Moana every three hours. You have to have adult conversations again complete with nouns, verbs and adjectives. It was hard but I am extremely proud of my wife and I for not once asking each other, “Do you need to go poopie?”
- You will still spend 30 minutes every evening trying to figure out what the @#$% you want to eat!
We miss our daughter and we are definitely ready for her to be home. However, I have to admit, I fretted a lot over nothing leading up to this time without her. We had a good time this past week. We got to hang out and be adults again. We got to sit at a bar and not ask for a high chair or a kid’s menu. I dare say, we needed this little stay-cation.
So if your parents offer to watch your kid, trust that everything will turn out okay and let them. Your sanity needs it. Your relationship needs it. What’s remaining of your adult self needs it. In fact, you may even be a better parent for it in the long run.
Although, I still think Agoge training would have been awesome.