Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Struggle

"Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection." ~Lawrence Durrell

Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI

As many of you know from following us on Facebook, Scott & I were able to take a trip to the Caribbean this month by ourselves.  This is only the second time that we have done so since our honeymoon back in 1997.  We took our first trip alone together last year about this same time, which I did not publicize for reasons I will explain later.  We went 16.5 years without taking one single trip away, just the two of us.  I have no regrets about this whatsoever.  The time was just not right until last year.  I was 100% in Mommy Mode that first 16 years... literally knowing that where I wanted to be was AT HOME with our kids.  I didn't think it was necessary or important for me to be leaving my kids for any length of time to get away with my husband.  It felt selfish and like a luxury I didn't need.  We chose to have three kids & even though our situation is different than most, we still shouldn't "need" that type of break.  Not to mention that there was physically NO WAY to get away even if we wanted to.  We didn't have babysitters, nurses or anyone else who would want to take up residence at Da Hooligan House for a week, get no sleep, care 24/7 for our 3 kiddos, and literally run *my life* while I gallivanted around the islands. The whole idea seemed more like a dream than anything.  

It wasn't until early last year that Scott & I looked at each other in our unbelievably sleep-deprived frustration & cried, "THIS YEAR WE ARE GOING SOMEWHERE.  JUST US.  NO QUESTION. LET'S BOOK THE MOTHERFUCKIN' TRIP BEFORE WE CHANGE OUR MINDS!!!!!!!"  And we did.  And it was wonderful.  And it was possible because we now have an amazing "team" in place to help us with the girls both day & night. I don't know what I'd do without them... they are FAMILY & we are SOOOOOO blessed that they are part of our lives!!!! 

It was so wonderful last year that we booked another trip this year.  We returned earlier this week from 10 days in the Virgin Islands.  Just us.  Alone.  For only the third time in 17+ years of marriage.

You might think this is where the story ends, with me sharing breathtaking beach pictures & recounting tales of wild nights in paradise as Gwen & Scott finally unwind after years of being cooped up in boring old, landlocked Kansas.  But you would be wrong.

Please understand -- and I have no idea why I feel the need to preface this with a disclaimer, but I just don't want anyone thinking I'm a prima donna or some ungrateful bitch who doesn't realize the gifts that I have both at home & while away travelling -- but I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF BEING GONE.  I loved being in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I loved the warm weather (unlike the wind chill of 1 degree that we came home to!), sunny skies, palm trees, & pristine beaches.  I loved the one-on-one time I had with my husband.  I loved how free I felt being able to go to bed whenever I wanted or get out of the car without a 15 minute scramble to be sure I didn't forget burp rags or diapers or wipes or the spoon or bib or baby food or back-up outfits in case one of the girls pees/pukes on their clothes.  I loved having no responsibilities.  I loved feeling like newlyweds again.  I loved being able to do things we couldn't do in Kansas.  I loved being able to do things we are not able to do when our kids are with us (get your minds out of the gutters, ya' pervs! OK, maybe not.  I might mean that too!  LOL).  I loved having tropical drinks with my dinner.  I loved jamming out to reggae & island beats in our rented Jeep on a faraway island, exploring to our heart's content without having to worry about anyone else's needs but our own.  I loved the rush of snorkeling for six hours straight with stingrays, sea turtles, tropical fish, squid, octopus, huge tarpon, and 2 sharks!!!  I loved surfing in the most turquoise water in the pouring rain and getting up on the first try.  I loved sleeping in.  I loved sleeping in general!  I loved relaxing swings in the hammock overlooking the islands.  I loved being able to get ready to go out for the night in 20 minutes.  I loved dancing in the pouring rain in the middle of the street BECAUSE I COULD.  I loved EVERY MOMENT I spent there. Wholeheartedly.  Like every single day was one of the best days of my life, next to my wedding day & the three days my children were born.  I can barely put it into words what this trip -- these two trips -- have meant to me without tearing up because it was so beautiful & perfect & NEEDED, start to finish. (Too late... tears already rolling...can barely see the screen)

And therein lies the struggle... Knowing I needed this trip more than just about anything else in life, but feeling SO FUCKING POWERLESS the entire time I was there because of how intensely I missed my life here. Not to mention the immeasurable guilt I felt for LIKING all of the things I mentioned above, most of which involved me feeling FREEDOM from the stressors of life here at home.  What kind of mother am I for ENJOYING being away from my kids?  For wanting to stay for ten days, thousands of miles away from my kids while countless others have to pick up the slack for me at home?  For 6 days not being enough this time?  For being so disconnected from my kids - - they are my WORLD! - - and LIKING how that feels because I have zero responsibilities?  Do you know what a betrayal that feels like to my kids??? 

I almost didn't want to like it as much as I did. I half expected we'd go last year & it would be "enough" to tide us over for another 5+ years.  Why do you think I didn't publicize that we went last year?  BECAUSE I WAS EMBARRASSED WE WERE LEAVING THE GIRLS.  There, I said it.  It hurt me then & it hurts me still to admit that we needed this break.  It hurts me to admit how hard it is sometimes to care for two children with special needs.  It hurts me to admit that others can care for the girls just like I can.  It hurts me that I felt enough disconnect with my husband to need this trip.  It hurts me that I felt some burnout about being a caregiver 24/7.  It hurts me to admit that we now have 7 nights a week of nursing care for Lola & that I couldn't survive one more day getting less than 2 hours of sleep a night.  It hurts me to admit that part of the reason I feel guilty about leaving the girls especially is because I don't want to waste precious time I do have with them while they are still here.

But WHY??? Why are these things so difficult for me to say and accept?  And why am I beating myself up over wanting a break from my life?  (But promise me you guys won't ever for one second think that I don't completely love my life!!!!!  Because I do.  But I just cannot understand why if I love my life so much - as I do! - that I would even need a break from it at all?!?!?  I wish I could just admit that life is hard sometimes, breaks are OK because they recharge me, & I am no less of a Mom for wanting to get away once a year. Damn this Mommy guilt!!!!)

I feel a sense of weight lifting off my shoulders as I type this.  (Wish that weight was lifting off my thighs or ass instead, dammit!)  It just feels so good to process through this & really to be blogging at all, as I pretty much took a two month hiatus so I wouldn't have to "go there" with all these emotions.  I just couldn't... or I likely would've cashed in that trip insurance & stayed the F home! Trust me, I was looking for reasons to not go!  This internal guilt shit is for the birds!!!!

(For the record, the girls & Cal had ZERO problems while I was gone, aside from their usual antics. :)

I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back home.  I have so missed THIS.  

Will someone tell me why certain 15 year old boys refuse to participate in selfies with their Mamas?!?!?
Me, Cal & Cam at the WSU game last night (Only 2 of us apparently give a shit!!!  LOL)

Stand up, baby girl!  I AM SO PROUD OF YOU, CLAIRE!!!!!!!


"A man travels the world over in search of what he
needs and returns home to find it." ~George A. Moore

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