Every Mom Needs a Break

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Image via Rachel Engel

We’re a military family, so for us, grandma is not down the block, or across town, or even in the neighboring town. She is hours away, and can’t pop over to surprise the kids, or whisk them away for a spontaneous sleep over while the man and I spend an evening without Mickey Mouse.

This means that when we do organize a time for her and granddaddy to have the kids all to themselves, it involves a road trip, multiple sets of pajamas, and lots of FaceTime for mommy and daddy, who are relishing their alone time, while also trying to stop the tears knowing the kiddos aren’t right down the hall tucked in their beds. 

{ MORE: Setting Boundaries With Grandma and Grandpa }

It’s an odd mixture of excitement and complete and total anxiety as I wave goodbye to my mom with the kids tucked into their car seats in the back seat. My daughter barely kisses me goodbye, she’s so busy trying to tell me how much fun she’s going to have building princess castles out of blocks with granddaddy, and playing in the pool, and feeding Grannie’s chameleon and tarantula (Grannie is a 5th grade science teacher, so she has animal and insect friends sleeping over during the summer). My son, in all his 14-month-old innocence, just smiles at me when I kiss him and kicks his legs, delighted to be back in his seat with his owl mirror hanging off the headrest.

And, then, they’re gone. Down the road and onto the highway for a fun, four-day filled adventure with the two people who love them most in this world besides their father and me, and I am left to walk back into a very empty, quiet house. What in the world do I do now? 

{ MORE: We Needed Her As Much As She Needed Us }

After a few tears are shed, I realize this is a seriously sad situation, and I need chocolate. Pulling the Oreos out of their secret hiding place (the cupboard above the washer and dryer!), I sit on the couch and drown my sorrows in their double-stuffed goodness. It’s then that I realize I am sitting out in the open, with the package of Oreos next to me, eating them … and I don’t have a toddler in front of me, demanding a cookie with a sweet, “Please?” tacked on for good measure.

Slowly, it’s creeping back to me: that feeling of freedom that every mother-to-be swears they won’t miss. I realize I can go to the gym whenever I want … and the grocery store! And Target! And … the bathroom! All without needing to give myself an hour buffer to account for the time two small children under four require. 

{ MORE: Somewhere, A Soldier Is Missing Their Home }

Suddenly, the idea of leaving the house without coordinating with my husband, or deftly distracting the baby so he doesn’t realize he’s not attached to my waist, or being able to just walk out the door only thinking about my needs and wants sounds heavenly. Where should I go? Errands? Coffee? A pedicure? The afternoon is wide open, and the sky’s the limit.

But, first, maybe a quick phone call, just to check if the kids are doing okay …

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Every Mom Needs a Break

Rachel is a stay-at-home-mom to her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and her 18-month-old son, Jackson. Her writing can be found all over the web, mostly detailing her own parenting struggles and triumphs, as well as her life as the military spouse of an active-duty airman. She also writes about her life as as a special needs parent on her blog, Tales From the Plastic Crib, and spends an unnecessary amount of time on Twitter. ... More

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