Last weekend I was given a ‘get out of jail free’ overnight pass for a whitewater canoeing day trip (it’s not fair to compare my life with those in prison, I know. Prisoners get more time in the yard. And eat better).
I was very happy to get away for a little while in order to have a break, do something I am passionate about, and spend some time just being me. Then a funny thing happened.
I was waiting for my brother and our cousin’s husband (read it over again slowly, it makes sense) tie two kayaks and a canoe to my brother’s SUV (a feat of engineering which left me out of the problem-solving), so I had some time standing in a parking lot in view of my home and I started to miss my family. I thought about bolting back for a few more hugs, kisses and cuddles. I thought of how cute their pudgy little cheeks are (my kids, not my husband), how wonderful they smell (sometimes my husband), how sweet it is to hold them (ok, this one can include my husband).
From that distance my kids were perfect, my family life wonderful.
Of course, once we got rolling and I got talking and laughing on the adults-only car ride, I found that bliss of being away for a little bit. I enjoyed the time socializing, the ability to move about freely without someone pulling on my shirt, the simplicity of only having to feed myself.
My 3-year-old used to say “I want to miss you” when she wanted one of her parents to leave, or, “I don’t want to miss you” when she didn’t want to leave one parent, or didn’t want that parent to leave. She also had a few moments where, upon returning home to me after running errands with her father, she had a light bulb moment where it occured to her that in her absence I must have missed her and she apologized to me for being gone.
But I think she has it right when she says “I want to miss you”. In this era of hands-on parenting (my mother always tells me she was raised in a time when kids were ‘seen and not heard’ and she insists that is not a good thing), I need to have times where I miss my kids. It’s just safer for everyone.
My advice? Be gone enough that your children know what it is to miss you, but not so much that they say “Mom/Dad who?”.