Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Summer Vacation


Stacy Snyder - parentunplugged - My Summer Vacation - Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain was a first for me!
Summer vacation started this year with our kids hitting the road for ten days.  The bell rang through the school yard signaling summer vacation had started and within thirty minutes, my kids were packed up in the Camry and cruising down 65 on the way to my parents’ in Indiana.  It’s an annual trip that my 8-year-old has taken for the past few years to visit with her Gigi, and Pops and Granny Jan.  Last year my Texas nieces were added into the mix, making it even more of an adventure.  This year, my three-year-old was up for the journey as well, leaving my girlfriend and I alone.

Our plan for the time they were vacationing was to have no plans at all.  We hadn’t had one uninterrupted 24-hour-period without our kids in the last year, much less a span of ten days.  We decided we’d treat it with all the respect it was due.  When friends called to make plans for that week, we literally said, “Sorry, but we don’t want to have any plans.”  And we didn’t.  We wanted to do as we wanted to do, without having to go home for naptime or break for multiple bathroom breaks or be home early for dinner.
When an acquaintance asked us at the beginning of our children’s 10-day absence if we were going to miss them, we both gave emphatic “no’s”.

It’s not that we don’t love and adore our children, as we do.  We’re blessed and lucky not only to have such amazing little girls, but also to have such wonderful parents that are not only alive and able to love our kids, but also make a priority of spending quality time with them.  

“I’m sure you’ll have a great time,” our neighbors suggested, “but I’m sure it will be a double-edged sword as you’ll miss them after a day or two.”

“Nope,” I replied.  “We’ll be good.” 

“We’ll talk to you a few days into it and see if you still feel the same,” one friend challenged.

In my head I made note, “No you won’t, as we refuse to make plans so we won’t see you again before they come home.”

Stacy Snyder - parentunplugged - My Summer Vacation - sunrise at the lakefront Chicago
Sunrise was gorgeous at the lakefront
Four days into our time alone not only as a couple, but also as individuals without the responsibilities of children, we had only spoken to our kids once.  We skyped them to find the four cousins dressed in each other’s clothing.  The older girls had the little girls’ tiny clothes on and the little ones had the big girls’ longer clothes on.  They all wore panties on their heads as hats.  We said we loved them and signed off.
We didn’t miss them a bit.  We were happy to hear they were happy riding the tractor and playing in the sprinkler, but we had no qualms about their well-being.  We didn’t wonder if they were missing us or how they were sleeping or if they were being nice to one another.  We were too busy not caring.

“I couldn’t do it,” one mom confided over a morning workout.  “The idea sounds great but the reality would be more than I could bear being away from my children.”

Stacy Snyder - parentunplugged - My Summer Vacation - The Bean in Chicago
Drinks before visiting The Bean
I’m here to tell you that the reality is every bit as satisfying as the idea!  Margaritas on the patio of Cesar’s in the middle of the day completely overarched breaking up a catfight over who’s going to play on the Ipad.  Riding our bikes to church and then basking in the sand at the beach before stopping off for a mid-afternoon toddy beat out the weekly shopping trip at Aldi while waiting for CCD or kids choir practice to end.  Dinner downtown followed by an impromptu drag show completely won out over paying a babysitter and hurrying home by midnight.  Taking a morning run and going to the gym, all before a full day’s work completely trumped my usual workout of pushing one 45-pound child in a rusty jogging stroller while continuously yelling at my other older bike-riding child to slow down and wait for me before crossing the busy street.  Arising at quarter-till the crack of dawn to bike-ride to the beach, coffee in hand, to watch the sunrise did NOT pale in comparison to waking up in the middle of the night and rocking a sick child back to sleep.  Watching a complete movie, uninterrupted, even if it was Dolly Party and Queen Latifah in Joyful Noise, absolutely stomped on the notion of trying to fit in one episode of Nurse Jackie, watching a few minutes now, and the other half while the kids are taking a tub after dinner.  Taking a three-hour nap lying next to my partner did not suck in comparison to feeling guilty for closing my eyes for five minutes while counting to 100 five times , laying next to my youngest in her bed, waiting for her to fall asleep for her nap.  Attending the Gay Pride Parade at our leisure, and without inhibition, wholly rocked when considering the intense planning, preparation, and censure that normally goes into taking the kids to public celebrations of any sort in the city. 

I feel not an ounce of shame in languishing in the afterglow of 240 hours without my children.  I do not apologize for not missing them, but instead embracing the time together with my girlfriend, where we had not only a chance to enjoy each other’s complete sentences, but also to reconnect and love life together. 

Day 8 found us cleaning the house together.  As Katie was dusting off a family photo, she said, “I’m starting to miss the kids.  I’m about ready for them to come home.”  We definitely enjoyed our last few days together, but we also started mentally preparing for our return to the land of schedules, squabbles, and Cee Cee my Playmate.

Stacy Snyder - parentunplugged - My Summer Vacation - picture of my girls
The girls have been home for not even 48 hours, yet it’s already back to all kids, all the time.  And this is good.  But it’s even better that we’ve been able to throw in a little of the unscheduled, unplanned, meandering that Katie and I have grown accustomed to in the past week or so.  So what if the 6:00 dinner hour was replaced with a romp through the spray park today and the 8:30 sign-off for bed was interchanged with a sleepover with popcorn and a movie.  I’ll say the same thing about the schedule and routine this summer that I said about my kids being gone:  “I don’t miss them.”  Come September, I’ll be happy to have them back and welcome them with open arms, but for the summer, it’s time to love life together with my kids.