You Without Them

You’ve been dreaming about a break; wishing for a quieter space, just a little less chaos. Maybe you’d have a hot coffee from start to finish, or go on a date without having to wonder who in the world is around to babysit. 

Heck, maybe instead of taking a shower like running a time trial for the Olympics, you’ll take all the time you want, maybe light a delicious-smelling candle and listen to Lauryn Hill on repeat.

Strange place?

A million things you’d do, with a million less strings attached if the kids head out to their grandparents for Easter break. And then it happens… they do. The house is very noticeably different. The LEGOs you usually curse on as they drive up into your feet like pins are sitting in their containers. You haven’t had to raise your voice at anyone to wash their hands or flush the toilet. And perhaps the oddest revelation of all? No one has asked you for a snack every hour on the hour. What is this strange place?

In the quiet of this temporary freedom, you realize a lot. One, that life really has changed pace and shifted focus rather dramatically whether you’ve noticed or not. Since the moment your babies drew their first breaths Earth-side, you have been, or been in the process of, becoming a different version of yourself. There is no way not to be changed entirely by picking up the torch of motherhood. It’s like nothing else you’ll ever do.

Jobs, houses, friends, romance, hopes and dreams; these seemingly important things come and go, warp and change, but you are a mother forever. There is no version of the story of your life that could ever exist now without being a mother as the major plot point. 

For that reason, this little pocket of freedom will be an adjustment when it happens. Before that hot coffee is poured or that nice candle is lit, you’ll feel quite aimless; guilty even. You wanted less demands on your body and mind, yet when they are actually absent you look for them, feeling restless without the responsibility at first. Your house and your heart will feel a little like a ghost town to be honest.

Freedom settles in

But us humans are adaptable creatures and thus as the freedom settles in, you do too. The ever nagging mom guilt that’s been telling you to feel terrible that you shipped them off for a whole week gets the boot and you start to make plans to have sushi and go swimming. Yes, swimming, the kind where you float weightlessly in the deep end. The unique sound that fills your ears as they slip under water is therapeutic; like pressing mute on all the lists and worries and stress that love to play heavy metal on bust in your brain. No puddle jumpers or emergency change room snacks needed. 

And that bearded fella across the supper table? Yeah him. Your husband. Imagine that, he’s still here. You wonder what you’ll talk about without the normal supper hour mayhem of interruptions. Time and circumstance have changed you, re-shifted your priorities as parents now, but you remember that there was a time when all you ever wanted, all that seemed important, was to wear a white dress and meet him at the end of the aisle. That white dress hasn’t fit in years but you’re holding tightly to the hope that the two of you still do. After all, you and him and a pocket full of dreams is where this story began. 

It hasn’t been a ride without bumps, detours and jolts of emotional whiplash, but as the dust settles in the quiet of a kid-free space, you see that it’s still you, still him, on the front lines, together.

It’s as it should be

But for all this week-long-kid-free coupon has allowed you, there’s one rather humbling truth. Nothing feels quite right without them. You without them is an equation that just doesn’t add up anymore. Their belly laughter and foolish dance moves are among the millions of little things that have painted a rainbow of colour into your life. 

So as the coupon expires, you’ll be aching for them to come back. They’ll bust in through the door, rip open their suitcases in the middle of the hallway to show you all the things they brought home. Within minutes you’re back to calling out reminders about toilet flushing and warnings about no sweets before supper. It’s loud and chaotic again,  and although you’ll probably need an Advil later, you know that everything is as it should be. 

You’ll take the nights where they vomit into your hands or the days when they run across the house with mucky boots on. The talking back, the toothpaste all over the sink, the LEGO minefields, the messy rooms; it’s all part of loving them. It’s all part of the privilege you have been afforded to raise little humans who will hopefully go on to do good things.

It’s the greatest love story you’ll ever know. You carry all the hard stuff because nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the good stuff. There is no you without them, no them without you and just like that the story rolls on.

Welcome home my darlings. Now go brush your teeth!

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