I felt so bad, I almost considered cancelling! The plane tickets had been a prize (someone has to win the raffle!) and so I knew it would likely be a one-off experience - jetting off for a weekend in the city for some romance. I decided I had to do it. What's more, on behalf of busy parents everywhere, I had to enjoy it, too.
To be fair, since the kids the only 'grown up' holidays we've taken have been separately - a girls weekend here or a boys trip there. We've had the odd evening out together for a wedding or a 40th - but our kids had never spent more than a few hours out of a parent's care. After eight years of parenting, I told myself we deserved a weekend off.
At the airport we both admitted to feeling a little lost. For the first time in eight years, we queued side-by-side and silently, we checked all our luggage through and we read in the departures lounge. We live in a largish country town, so of course we knew half a dozen of the fifty passengers on our plane. A couple of them mentioned, "You look lost... where are your kids?!" We weren't tag-teaming like usual, one kid-wrangling while the other juggled five travel coupons and assorted nappy/toy/overnight bags.
And... it felt good! It felt calm, it felt relaxing. I found that I liked it.
On our little child-free trip, we walked ridiculous amounts - I clocked over forty THOUSAND steps in forty hours. We did things the kids would have found boring... like visiting the gallery and having quiet coffees (OK, J found those things boring too). We also did things that we knew the kids would have loved (eating ice-cream and riding the glass lifts) and promised to let them do those next time we visit the city.
We slept, we joked around, we went out in the evenings for dancing and drinks. We shopped in places that had many, many shiny breakables, shops that were too narrow for a pram and shops that *didn't* have a toy section.
We remembered how good I was (when my hands were free of children) at dealing a loud slap for his impertinent remarks**. We felt young. We felt connected, we really looked at each other for the first time in months and appreciated one another. If you know my husband, you know he's one of the best - and I sometimes forget just how lucky I am.
Then.. we came home to our children (who we had missed) - happy and ready to face another week of school drop offs, speech lessons, basketball training and missing ballet shoes.
We have promised we won't leave it another eight years before we prioritise some quality time together.
**It's our 'thing'. He insults, I slap. We both enjoy it, honest!
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