What if they're up all night? What if my youngest thinks I've abandoned her forever? What if my oldest has night terrors and only wants mommy? What if I get mastitis because I have to pump the whole time?
These were the questions racing through my mind when my friend invited me to get away for a girls' weekend. At the time, my youngest wasn't even a year old, (even though she'd be 18 months when I took the trip), and my head was swarming with worries, including the concern it would put my husband and family out to have to take care of our kids without me (back to this later).
Like many moms, I've taken on the bulk of the nighttime parenting duties and, as such, see myself as essential to the process. It's a mix of maintaining control and managing anxiety, with possibly a sprinkle of self-importance. I mean, how could my family possibly function without me?!
Even typing that seems ridiculous, but that's exactly what we do as moms. We worry way too much and think we need to stay in control of the routine to the detriment of ourselves... I'd gone four and a half years without a full night off from parenting, unless you count the night I gave birth to my second.
And, that's the thing. My husband has taken nights away. I've even taken the girls on trips without him. And, I'm certain he hasn't felt an ounce of guilt about it. Heck, he's even asked to go places within weeks of me giving birth, although he later had the better judgment to stick around just in case I needed him.
So what's our deal as moms? Why do we have such a hard time claiming the same luxuries as our partners? Goodness knows we deserve a break as much as they do. Which brings me back to my friend's invitation. It came at exactly the right moment. Little did she know, I was simultaneously beginning to feel lost in it all. I didn't even realize what I needed was a vacation from my non-stop job.
So, despite all those doubts in my head, I decided to be brave and not look back. After two kids and countless nights of figuring out how to keep everyone asleep, I knew I'd earned a couple evenings off, completely to myself, regardless of the repercussions.
When August finally rolled around and it was my turn to escape, I pushed my anxiety aside and embraced the break. I spent two amazing nights with two of my closest friends. We ate, we laughed, we talked all night, and we even attempted silly yoga poses on paddle boards, (or at least two of us did while the third enjoyed watching as we nearly fell into the harbor). It was exactly what I unknowingly craved. I felt like the girl I was in college, again.
As far as my worry about how it would be for my husband and the grandmas who offered to help? It turned out just fine. Yes, it was hard and he was up a lot the first night, and, yes, my oldest had a night terror, (and both nights my husband slept with a teething toddler draped across his chest). But he also thanked me. He said he got to bond with the girls in a different way than he usually does. He said I should go away more often, proving I worry unnecessarily.
When I think back to that moment where I had to decide whether to put myself first, I remember texting a friend who had taken a similar trip. She told me to go for it, I wouldn't regret it. And she was so right. For whatever reason, I needed another mom to give me permission. So maybe, just maybe, reading this will give you exactly the push you need to do the same for yourself. After all, your family will still be there, waiting for you with newly appreciative smiles on their faces, when you get home.