It’s hard to believe, even after the fact, that I recently had an amazing vacation–without my kids. My best friend booked us on the New Kids on the Block cruise this year. We met in grade 10 and became best friends when we discovered we both liked New Kids and no one else seemed to (although it seems some of those people who used to tease us for being “Blockheads” are now huge fans). Anyway, I’m not going to lie, I was dreading this trip as much as I was looking forward to it. Big Kid told me I needed a break and I should go. Angel told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want me to go. SpecialDad told me to go and enjoy myself.
Well, I had some anxiety about the trip in the months leading up to it, but as it got closer, the anxiety became less and the excitement grew. You see, my friend lives in Calgary, so we don’t get to see each other very often. This was our first time going away together and spending an extended period of time together. In the last 4 years, we’d spent 4 days together.
Why yes, we did have the whole pool to ourselves! Relaxing in Miami.
It wasn’t easy to go, especially knowing that Angel didn’t want me to leave. Until now, I’d only been away from Angel for 1 night at a time, and only a few times. Big Kid has gone camping with her grandparents for a week, so it was a little easier for her. I won’t give you all the details on my trip here. I’ll save that for a post on my other blog in the near future. What I wanted to say is that I didn’t realize how tense I was until I relaxed.
We flew into Miami a couple of days before we left. Our hotel didn’t have a pool, but its sister hotel did. It was 2 blocks away. The first night in Florida, floating with my best friend in the pool, I felt completely relaxed for the first time in years. Things at home were the same, but I was thousands of miles away and it felt so good to have some distance. I was able to be me for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t someone’s mom, or personal speech therapist, or an employee, or even a writer. I was just me. Floating in a pool, watching the sunset. Laying on my back, the only thing I could hear was my own breathing, and I needed that. That was the moment when I realized why everyone had told me that I needed a break. And that it was OK to need a break. I’m not Supermom. I love my children and my husband, but I need to take care of me too.
The NKOTB Cruise Pledge. Pardon the cussing.
I had 6 days away and it was great. The first couple of days, I was able to Skype with the girls from the hotel, so they got to tell me in person that they missed me and wanted me to come home. But once we were on the ship, I didn’t have any Wi-Fi. It was nice to be unplugged. It was nice to just be for a few days. We relaxed, suntanned a bit, ate when we were hungry, had a couple of drinks, swam with stingrays, enjoyed our friendship, got lost on the boat a few times (OK, this one was me–I have a horrible sense of direction!), napped when we were tired, had some good laughs, and danced every night at the deck parties. What I wasn’t doing was worrying. I wasn’t stressed about anything and the closest I got to a panic attack was on the last day when we had the opportunity to get a picture with Jonathan Knight. I had so many things I wanted to say to him as a fellow anxiety sufferer, but I totally lost my words. If not for my bestie speaking up, we would not have had our chance. My hands were shaking only slightly after the fact. I did good!
Suzie & Socks at the controls of the plane. They wanted to start the engines, but we talked them out of it.
It wasn’t easy to leave, but taking this trip was really important for me. One thing I planned before I left was to trade stuffies with Angel. I took her sock monkey named Socks with me and she kept my bear, Mr Ted with her. In the end, Big Kid wanted in on the action, so she sent her dog, Suzie, with me as well. The girls traded my bear every night so that they both got to keep him company. What the girls didn’t know is that we took pictures of Socks and Suzie throughout the trip doing different things. They even got to go in the cockpit of the WestJet plane after we landed in Miami. It was a little way for me to feel connected to the girls. I kept saying, “They’d love to see Socks and Suzie do this,” and we’d take the picture.
I also wrote a note for the girls with information on what we would be doing each day. They would open the envelope in the morning and Daddy helped them to look up online where my hotel was or where we were going to be that day. I saw that idea on Pinterest and adapted it to my kids. We did lots of talking about my trip and put the day I was leaving and the day I was coming back on the calendar so that Angel could see it. We also made sure that the girls would be there when I got home (of course, my flight was delayed by weather!). I wanted Angel to see me as soon as she could. We won’t talk about the fact that the first thing Big Kid said was that she needed help with her homework, or that Angel was upset that I was late. No, instead, what I focussed on was spending time with each of the girls before bed. I lay down with them and we cuddled and chatted and giggled a bit. It was good to be home, recharged, and ready to get back to it.
So my goal now is to be more relaxed. I know that I need to take more time for myself and I’m going to do it. I don’t need to go on another trip (although, I certainly wouldn’t mind!). I can take small vacations here at home by going out for coffee with friends, looking at my trip pictures, or just sitting on my porch swing with a good book. I can do this!
The “kids” in a cool looking tree in Nassau, Bahamas.