Our two kids, ages 7 and 4, left on a Monday to stay with my parents in Arizona. They would return on a Saturday. That’s a good, solid 5 days, and 5 nights without them…
Charlie, my oldest, has been flying to Arizona to visit my parents since she was 3 months old. She even flew by herself recently. This would be Theo’s 3rd visit to AZ.
|Charlie’s first time in Arizona|
In all the years I have let my babies fly and stay for an extended period of time without me, this the first time I actually felt 100% cool about it.
What matters is we fully appreciated the opportunity to remember who we are as individuals, and a couple, rather than what tends to feel like just the disciplinarians of our kids…
And we fully appreciated the opportunity to allow our kids to have fun in full force…with a new set of people who they love so much…and who love them even more…
So, here are just some of the things I found myself doing while my kids were away:
1.) Going to Target
I do not shop recreationally…not as much as my soul would appreciate, I’m sure. I don’t even know what stores carry anymore outside of the stuff I regularly buy. For example, I stopped at Target (which I rarely shop at, unless I need a nursing tank top) and Ross (both in the same day, which I have never actually done since having kids) and compared organizational items, among other things. I cannot remember the last time I strolled through the aisles, for fun, and let my creative imagination flurry…. Although she didn’t see me, I smiled at the distracted mom who repeatedly told her three little kids in her red shopping cart to, “listen…I need you to listen…put that down…get over here…” As I pushed my sleeping infant in my own stroller, I almost blurted out that my other kids were staying with their grandparents… I didn’t and instead sent a silent prayer and appreciation her way.
2.) Staying in my car for a few minutes after I pull into a store parking lot
This never happens when my kids are in the car… unless we are still listening to a song that is playing, which we all enjoy…
Have you ever checked an email, sent a text or looked something up on your phone, right after putting your car in park? If you have, then you probably know what happens right after that second…”Let’s go!!!” Screams from the backseat… Huge rush of disappointed energy when they realize that they must wait on my few needed minutes to do whatever it is that swirled in my mind from the time I left my house to the time I pulled up to the store.
While you had been daydreaming, fighting, eating, sleeping, singing, enjoying our ride to whatever next adventure we are on…I had been protecting our lives, keeping on high alert for spacecraft malfunctions, dangerous intruders, law enforcement, flying debris, pedestrians, Mother Nature, all the while going in and out of my own daydream about…whatever it may be…but it’s important…and I will take my few minutes after our vehicle has safely reached our destination.
3.) Acting on spontaneous moments of creative energy
We can set these moments up, like when it’s nap time, school time, after bed time, right after they’ve eaten and all their needs are met time…
But I’m talking about the raw moments of creative energy that have no boundaries and no time limits… No, I’m not flying off to Vegas or anything…I’m speaking to the amount of creative energy it takes to pull everything out of your closets, your shed and your garage and decide it’s purpose, where you want it to go and the huge release of giving or throwing it away.
Sure, this creative energy can be applied to prayer, meditation, writing, art, cooking, dancing, whatever release you want in order to express yourself and create a desired end result…
But for me, it meant allowing for a grand ‘ol dance with my stuff…and my kids’ stuff…and my creative energy is certainly expressing itself much more now that I have created space for it to show up…and stay…
4.) Staring at a bounce house
We went to our church’s annual Italian Festa…the food is amazing… and there is always a bounce house… it’s all anyone (the kids) can talk about…as soon as we round the corner from our parking spot, and just the top corner of that yellow, red and blue marshmallow reveals itself…the screams begin…and everything we talk about doing becomes either “before” or “after” the bounce house (it’s actually one of those obstacle course ones, but nonetheless…)
“We can do the bouncy thing after we eat”…. “before we leave”…. “after you listen….as long as you…”
As with most parenting moments, the only reason we let our kids on this thing is because they love it more than anything….
Our experience mostly looks like:
-Screaming about going in the bouncy thing
-Throwing shoes off…near the entrance to the bouncy thing, but not always
-Still looking for shoes and realize your kid has already jumped into the obstacle course
-Look up at the teenager who is taking money for the obstacle course and confirm that it’s a dollar (sigh if it’s more than a dollar)
-Give them money and race to find your kid in the obstacle course
-Tell them where to go
-Yell at the bigger kids that there is a little kid here
-Yell up at the other teenager who is sitting at the top of the slide part and ask them if they will help your kid
-Reassure your kid that it’s ok
-Run to the bottom of the slide to cheer them on as they slide down
-Sit anxiously as they take longer to get off the bouncy thing, making each step count
-Ask to go on again
-Either repeat experience or listen to your child scream about not going on again
-Distract with a game…or ice cream…or the kids’ craft table…none of which, at first, is nearly as fun as the bouncy thing
This time, Sean and I just took a few moments to stare at the bouncy thing….we watched as other parents were catching shoes, following their kids through the course, and walking away in despair… in this moment…I felt such joy and silence… love to this moment…and to you bouncy thing, for the joy you bring to my children…but not in this moment…in this moment…the joy is all mine…
which leads to #5
5.) Acting like a kid
It wasn’t until the silence of my children away for the week really set in…that I realize how much responsibility they give me…
I felt carefree and peaceful in a way I cannot describe! Why have you been stressing this whole time? Not only is it our responsibility to keep them alive, but it’s our duty to teach them with our every move, our every word, our every choice…
I put so much pressure on myself to be my best self when I’m around my kids because I want them to have my best self… see a highest potential… as a result, I break down into my worst self… yelling, trying to be in control all the time for fear they get hurt, break something, hurt someone else, break someone else’s things, eat junk food, get sick, be mean, be sad and angry…
The greatest intention I have taken from this is to be in the moment with my kids, just as I have been in the moment in their absence.
Feels like my work is kicking in!
The fun and joy my kids experience is no different than mine… We may like to do different things, we may find fun in different activities…however, we can both find joy in the same moment. We can both be in the same moment.
Parenting is a sacrifice…but it can still be one that results in joy… For a long time I have thought that I do so much for my kids and I’ve given up so much for them…but that’s a lack mentality… The universe is in our favor every moment…. and for me, I set the intention to dance with the energy of my kids, rather than think I have to sacrifice something in order to share space with it.
6.) Skipping meals
So, I didn’t skip meals, but I did eat lunch and dinner later. Gotta keep them fed, and keep ourselves fueled to keep up with them. We all get hangry, and it turns ugly…kids are no different except they can end up in a tantrum on the floor.
7.) Talking less
It’s amazing how much we talk with our kids! So many answers to their so many questions… there were times when I felt like my every move is questioned by my children: Why are we doing this, where are we going, why are your stopping, what are you doing, when are we going to do this/that…
With the kids away, the only person I talked to throughout the day was Truly, and it’s merely pleasant babble that is at my own discretion…there were chunks of hours where I didn’t say anything and I didn’t realize how enjoyable it is! I love silence!
Bess O’Connor, a holistic health professional at Deepak Chopra’s center says:
8.) Relishing in my extra energy
Raising children requires an enormous amount of energy. Taking children anywhere requires an enormous amount of energy. I didn’t realize just how much I had until…well, I was able to hold it!
9.) Missing them
There were the moments when I really missed them and wanted to know just how much fun they were having. I’d clean their rooms and appreciate them even more because I knew they were doing things that were bringing them joy, with people that they love very much. When the time came to pick them up and I saw their faces, I realized just how much love and gratitude I have for them.
10.) Not cleaning the house
I thought for sure I would be so excited to have the house spotless while they were gone… they wouldn’t be there to mess things up and things would stay right where I left them.
Although I did enjoy knowing things would stay right where I put them, I let messes sit around for awhile. I had other things I wanted to do! Picking things up around the house, laundry and dishes become so routine that I can do them in my sleep. I appreciate them for the meditative opportunity they bring me, but I was more interested in doing all the other things I never got to because of the time I spend with my kids. It was very transformational to create new grooves in my flow… etching a new path one new moment at a time…
If you want what you’ve always got, keep doing what you’ve always done
A nice pattern to form, is one made of subtle shifts.
11: (An extra one, just for fun) Putting Get ice cream on my To-Do list
So, I never actually made it to the ice cream shop to get my unlimited amount of toppings…without supervising minors on their own self-serve, topping extravaganza…
But I really wanted to and just didn’t catch an opportunity during this time…. we will go back for this adventure as a family another time, and I’m sure it’ll be more fun with the kids… or I’ll just go when they are in school…