Nick and I just returned from a week of Snowboarding in Japan. It was a wonderful holiday - we got to indulge in 5 days of snowboarding which we both LOVE, we explored Tokyo and caught up with some dear friends from back home in England. And.. we did it without the children.
I can't tell you what a big deal it was for me to leave our little ones for 10 whole days. Back in November when we decided to go it seemed like a great idea! I mean, who wouldn't love the idea of 10 days free from changing nappies, wrangling exhausted children, cooking, cleaning, getting up at 6 am and generally being a slave to the whims of 2 very cute, but very demanding, little people? Just imagine… Only needing to think about yourself, not having to wrestle children into shoes and coats, not having to plan your day around nap times and 7pm bedtimes, being able to sleep in, being able to have a hangover in peace! Sounds amazing right? Yet as our departure drew nearer I started to think about what it really meant to be leaving my little ones and I found that i couldn't really look forward to going away because I was so focussed on worrying about leaving. Was I just being amazingly selfish by taking this holiday? Were they going to be miserable without us? Aren't they much too young for me to leave just yet? Were they going to end up traumatised? I just felt so guilty about the whole thing.
I (foolishly) found myself searching the web for stories from other people who had travelled without their young children and while I found a few wonderful and inspiring articles on the subject, they were invariably followed by comments such as "if you feel the need to get away from your children then perhaps you're not doing it right" and "...selfish and bizzare. Why bother having kids? They only get in the way of your Jetset lifestyle after all…"
Are they right? Am I horrible mother? Am I damaging my children by deciding to make this trip (that they absolutely would not enjoy) without them?
Departure day arrived and we drove the kids to Nannie and Grandpa's, gave them lots of cuddles, told them how much we loved them and waved goodbye as we drove off. Were there any tears? Tonnes - but only from me! I've never had such a cheerful and enthusiastic send off! The kids were super excited about their 'holiday' with Nannie and Grandpa and waved and shouted the loudest and happiest 'good-bye's' and 'I love you's' that I've ever heard. Of course that only made me cry even more in the car on the way to the airport.. "poor little monkey's have no idea that we're abandoning them for 10 whole days!…"
But guess what. Nick and I went off and enjoyed ourselves, we had a great time, we forgot all about being 'mummy and daddy', we got to focus on ourselves and each other for a change and came back feeling truly rested and refreshed and full of love and patience for our sweet children.
The funniest thing is that I don't actually think they missed us at all (well, I'm sure they missed us a little - I'm going to tell myself that anyway) but certainly not to the point where they were upset about us not being there. And while the Internet Trolls would probably tell you that that's because my children are simply used to not having my love and attention, because I clearly neglect them and don't care about them at all, I'm going to tell you something different. I'm going to tell you that I'm proud of them and proud of myself to have been able to foster such a secure attachment in my children that they don't feel the need to have me nearby 24/7. That they feel confident in my love for them and are happy to know that I will always come back. That they are independent little people who are happy and willing to have their own adventures without me breathing down their necks.
I'm also immensely thankful to have such a wonderful family which whom Ella and Jacob feel so comfortable, safe and loved. We are all hugely grateful to them - without their support we could never have even considered this great adventure.
Thank you my darling husband for convincing me to take this trip. I had so much fun and loved spending time just with you. I love you as much today as I did the first time we kissed in the snow all those years ago. Xxx