THIS Is What 2 Weeks Away from the Kids Looks Like:
I always thought being a parent was like riding a bicycle; once you learn, it’s hard to forget the motions.
That was until I found myself 10,000 miles away from doctor’s appointments, new school shoes, and fights over UNO winners.
As the oceans faded into clouds, I found myself closer to childhood memories and further from child-rearing. There was no denying the freedom felt, shedding responsibilities one continent at a time.
On the one hand, flying home alone to Australia for the first time in six years seemed absurd.
What am I doing this for?
My whole life is here.
How can I just jump ship for two weeks?
Who will make lunches?
Attend the science fair?
Make organic sugar-free brownies for Shabbos morning?
(No one. No one made these, and suffice to say everyone survived).
Reality hit when I wheeled my cart out of Sydney’s baggage claim to find my mother and sister standing emotionally, holding a balloon that read Welcome home. It was just like when I returned home from birthright a decade ago. Albeit this time, I was a few pounds heavier, completely sober, and less concerned about my oily hair.
That was how an unfathomable, somewhat dreaded trip, turned into a rejuvenating retreat.
My mother pampered me like there was no tomorrow. I finally initiated a diet my doctor had recommended over six months ago. My face was graced with makeup daily. And sleep? Well, I don’t want to make anyone jealous.
I had time to make sure my shoes matched every morning and even partook in stimulating conversations with other adults — uninterrupted. I chatted for hours with old friends who knew me before sleep training was my mojo.
My family and I sat and laughed for hours. About everything. It was a continuous cackle that didn't even have to be interrupted by yelling at the kids to “HOLD THE RAILING” intermittently.
None of this would have been made possible without a husband who met my calls home with a reassuring “everything is fine.” Despite loud bangs and yells in the background, his confident smile made disconnecting easier. But it also made coming back that much harder.
Being a parent teaches you to be selfless, and being away from your kids will un-teach this faster than a mom driving out of carpool the morning after summer break.
I was excited to see the kids when I walked into the house, but I had mixed feelings when I realized everything was just fine without me. At a time when I was usually on the couch exhausted and counting the minutes to bedtime, my husband was playing hide and seek with all three kids.
The house was not trashed. The children were fed, clothed, and bathed. Even homework was done.
Before I could regroup, take off my sheitel, and have some water (as I had selfishly grown accustomed to doing while away), my husband had to take a call OUTSIDE, and I was stuck alone, with three children vying for my attention.
Suddenly, I was inundated with demands for presents and a detailed recount of my trip.
Readapting to #momlife was a challenge. Being away reminded me that I have thoughts, feelings, and an appetite beyond kids' leftovers.
But I found solace in the realization that the kids really missed me. That person that I was reminded of back home in my comfort zone while free from the responsibilities of adult life.
Sure, that person is often tired and bogged down by real life, but that person is still their mom. And that is who they were excited to see come back. Perhaps they won’t recognize the effort that goes into making doctor appointments, preparing mishloach manot from the other side of the world, and running to extracurricular activities daily.
And perhaps I will never come to LOVE doing these things either.
But seeing firsthand that it was my company they missed above all else, that person I dug up from the trenches back home, made it all worth it.
That, and an annual trip home all by myself.