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Monday, November 19, 2012

We ran away...

I can count on one hand the number of times my husband and I have gone away from home together without the kids. With 5 kids with special needs, abandonment issues, and complex schedules, it really is easy to feel somewhat irreplaceable...but that means Mom and Dad don't get much time to themselves and that's not too healthy for a relationship. In keeping with my new "self-care" goal, I've been reminding myself that my DH and I could do with some alone time that was a bit more exciting than our weekly trip to Costco for groceries...but until this weekend, we hadn't managed to pull it off.

One of our best friends was celebrating a milestone birthday and we were invited to join in the celebration. It was a 2 day affair in Mystic, Connecticut which is about a 2 hour drive away from us. When we first found out about it, I was sure we couldn't possibly participate...after all, who would watch/feed the kids? Drive them to appointments? Supervise in-home therapy? Administer their meds? Prevent sibling bloodshed? Impossible...just too many details in our fairly complex family dynamic to ask someone else to take over...forget about it. Then my DH looked me in the eye and said..."Dee, it's one night. In a hotel. Without kids or dogs. And a meal in a restaurant. With adults." Well, when he put it that way, it did sound appealing...so we decided to go for it.

We are blessed to have several very good friends of the "It takes a village to raise a child" variety. Two of our friends volunteered to stay with our kids. This meant basically taking over our whole routine for about 30 hours so we could go away...awesomely brave souls, these friends! I did what I could to streamline our routine, provide easy meals to serve the cherubs, and prep the kids for our absence. (Remember those abandonment issues? You would have thought we were going off to war instead of Connecticut.) 

On Saturday late morning, we hit the road, secure in the knowledge that our kids would be well supported in our absence. We also said a little prayer that our friends would still be our friends by the time we returned...teenagers can be tough and filling in for us had all the potential of turning into the familial equivalent of "Let's give the substitute teacher a hard time." We left our worries behind us and reveled in the 2 hour drive...the longest uninterrupted conversation we've had for a very long time...and arrived at our hotel in great spirits. It was all party time from there. Here are the highlights from Mystic:

  • We greeted our friends, surprising the birthday fellow 
    • His first question was "Who's watching the kids?"
  • We checked into our hotel room; it was pristene, an oasis of calm. 
    • There was no clutter
    • There were no dogs on the bed
    • There were no children in our bed watching our TV
      • In fact, we never even turned on the TV
  • Before dinner, we went for a walk, strolling in and out of shops our kids would have hated
    • We spent a long time in a couple of kitchen stores
    • We sampled fancy vinegars and oils
    • We didn't set foot in a single video game store
  • I actually soaked in a bathtub for at least 15 minutes (gasp)
    • No one was pounding on the bathroom door, asking for help settling a dispute
    • The towels were fluffy, white, and DRY! 
      • No one else had previously used every blessed one of them 
      • They were neatly folded, not in a soggy mess on the floor
    • So was the bathmat...amazing.
  • I took my time getting ready for dinner
    • I was able to use a curling iron and put on makeup for the first time in...well, never mind.
  • We spent the evening doing grown-up things
    • Before dinner, we joined our friends for a glass of wine and appetizers in the lobby
    • We ate things our kids wouldn't touch for dinner
    • After dinner, we joined our friends for drinks and birthday wishes
    • There were no screens, video games, or arguments over the aforementioned electronics
    • There was actual adult conversation
  • The night was passed in peaceful slumber
    • No dogs asked to be let out
    • No children came to us with illness or night terrors
  • The next day was perfect
    • It started off with Starbucks eggnog lattes
    • Breakfast at the Mystic Diner was a To-Die-For Greek omelette
      • The only person who begged to share with me was my DH
      • At least he shared his omelette in return!
    • We spent a few relaxing hours at the Mystic Aquarium
    • We took our time driving home, even stopped at Costco and BJ's...so romantic!
We got back home around 4pm on Sunday, found the house still standing and the friends still friends. See? I told you they were awesome. They claim our house is "a well-oiled machine" and claimed all went just fine. (I wonder who those Stepford kids were that they were watching??) Any way, we are beyond grateful. Without the Marvelous Mackeys, we never could have pulled off our little get away. Thanks, you guys!!!!

As for the cherubs...they were ready and waiting for us. We waded right back into the chaos that's pretty much our family life. Some had complaints about siblings. Some had homework that they needed help with. One was sick and in need of Dr. Mom's ministrations. One wanted to know what was for dinner. They offered and received hugs, told us they missed us and declared that we can never leave them again. And guess what? We missed them, too. It was a nice little break...but it was even better to come back home, refreshed and ready for Thanksgiving!

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