The day before I left on my mom-cation to Napa Valley, Facebook tossed a reminder my way that it had been a year since I officially embarked on my career as a stay-at-home-mom. A whole year. I could break down how many diapers I changed, how many meals I made, how much sleep I didn’t get, how many bottles of wine I went through, etc. over the course of that year but what purpose would that serve? Like the rings on a tree that tell you how old it is, the purple bags under my eye bely the parental hardships endured making such figures completely unnecessary. I have seen some shit.
My children are many wonderful adjectives. Feel free to insert them here. However, they also possess the energy of five golden retriever puppies shoved into the body of a gremlin that’s shot-gunned a case of Red Bull. Combined with the tragic fact that they have an undiagnosed sleep allergy and BOOM goes the dynamite. Or Mommy’s temper.
Originally based in a mom’s escapist fantasy, this trip to Napa was the carrot dangling in front of my proverbial horse and cart. Urging me on with the promise of a lucrative “year-end bonus” wherein I would be permitted to drink as much as I want and more importantly, not have to worry about the consequences of caring for two kids when I woke up in the morning. At one point, my husband did innocently ask “Wait, this trip is really happening?” To which my voice morphed into Linda Blair’s from “The Exorcist”, the lights in the entire house dimmed, and I sort of looked like this as I informed him that yes, it was happening:
A mother’s fantasy this was not. Very quickly Napa became shoved violently into “this is happening” and we began to count down the days until our escape. There were many days when Meghan would text “X number of days until Napa” and I knew that I could make it until bedtime.
I don’t know if it was my eagerness to experience this sort of freedom that caused the last reserves of my patience to drain so quickly, but for the last month I was running on K-Cup fueled fumes guided by a Cabernet tinted light at the end of the tunnel. I needed this trip not only for myself, but also so I could truly recharge my batteries and come back to Mom in a way that made everyone happy. I was starting to drift a little more from Mary Poppins to Ugly Stepmother. Okay, let’s be honest I was never Mary Poppins, but the increasing frequency with which AJR was asking me “Mommy, are you happy?’ when I was most clearly not was a red flag that mom needed a vacation.
And Napa did not disappoint. It was so many things beyond drinking really good wine. I don’t want to undersell that point at all because wow. My palate is forever changed. My budget, sadly, is not. Things that I had only dreamed about when I was trudging up the stairs again to the dueling chorus of infant and toddler cries refusing yet another nap suddenly became a delightful reality.
In a nutshell, we:
- Ate an entire meal in a restaurant where we were able to taste our food, hold an adult conversation and not have to ask for the check immediately after placing our order
- Sit in comfortable silence, not “oh crap why the hell are they so quiet right now? Who is horrifically maimed or what mess have they made” silence
- Only hear myself referred to as “Lynn”
- Take our sweet time getting ready after waking up from a restorative nap
- Do what we wanted, when we wanted, because we wanted to. Not because our dictators – I mean children – demanded it of us
- When I said “Just a minute” I actually got a full minute. Maybe five, before someone checked back in with me
- Sit. Truly sit. And not have to worry about what needed to get done around the house
- Didn’t pick up one single f’ing toy for three consecutive days
- On that note, we also didn’t have to:
- cook one meal
- Unload a dishwasher
- Do endless loads of laundry
- Give baths
- Put kids to bed
- Break up sibling fights
- Attempt to clean
- Eat cheese that isn’t the powder derived “bechamel” sauce coating our kids’ Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. No. This was real cheese. Cheese that pairs well with wine and meats that you won’t find in your kids’ lunchbox.
- Reminisce about our pre-kid, pre-married past over giggles and wistfully sigh about some aspects of it….but ultimately agree that we would most definitely not want to go back.
To sum it up, Napa was everything I thought it would be and more. A trip with one of my best and dearest friends that I hadn’t seen – gasp – in almost two years. A chance to indulge in one of my favorite past times (wine drinking) and actually come out semi-educated. I believe this means I can now refer to it as a “hobby” and seem a little less sad. And more importantly, it provided me with a much needed, longer than a date night or grocery store run, break.
I feel like a renewed mom. Case in point, my first night home we were sitting at the table having dinner and both kids were engaging in antics that I usually shut down so quick because after 15 months of dealing with it essentially 24/7, it gets old. And annoying. But I found myself laughing…and then trying to keep myself from laughing when my husband, who had been dealing with it solo for the last four days and now understood my pain, shot me a dagger-filled look that reminded me a lot of my pre-Napa self.
I’m not sure how long this post-vacation glow will last, especially given that I haven’t been home a full 48 hours, but I’m grateful for the break (and the husband that encouraged me to take it!). While I didn’t make any resolutions for 2017, I’m going to make it a point to take a deep breath, lighten up, and pick my battles more so we can all spend more time enjoying what is a fleeting stage in our lives.