A couple of days ago, my Mother-in-Law launched a sneak attack us on. Out of the blue she said that she'd like to take ALL THREE KIDS for 3 days... this week! My wife was understandably ecstatic. I was smiling on the outside but quietly yelling, "Nooooooooooo..." on the inside. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE kid-breaks (really really love them) but the kid-take-sneak-attack maneuver means that we didn't get to plan anything "extracurricular."
No, not THAT kind of extracurricular. Well... it does make THAT way easier, but the sneak-attack makes it so we didn't get time to plan going away overnight or any of the other things that you can only do without kids. But what it DID do, is make us very very aware of the drastic differences in these two universes that bear no resemblance to each other.
1) TIME: You have time to have a good old fashioned, guilt-free, sit. Time that is normally filled with waffle-making, story-reading, fight-stopping, toy-putting-awaying, and many other verbs... is all of a sudden filled with... time. Nothing; followed shortly after by the feeling that you should be doing something and subsequent the realization that there actually is nothing practical that comes close to filled the gaping time-void left when the kids are gone.
2) STUFF: I asked this question on my twitter account and @nedlog1981 said,
"I don't have to look behind me before I sit on the couch... that's nice".
I assumed he was talking about the floor/couch/bed/counter/desk/table space that is typically covered in Barbies, freezey wrappers and plastic artillery... being quite uncharacteristically empty. He responded,
"I was actually thinking I wouldn't have to worry about sitting on the BOYS. But stuff works too :)"
The other thing about stuff... is that it changes! Because kids have their own collection of it... and it's different than YOUR stuff. So large kid objects that you're used to taking up space head to Grandma's with them. Including your van because most "normal" humans have no need for a 7 seat vehicle. So your family bus goes away and you wind up with kid-holiday cars. Like today I wound up driving a sporty Pontiac to work. Well... sporty compared to a van.
3) NOISE: This really should have been #1. It's drastic. You go from the constant noise... to eerily quiet. Almost too quiet... (tumbleweed). If it's just you at home alone, you often even find yourself talking out loud to yourself just to break the creepiness.
4) FREEDOM: My friend Jessalyn on Facebook wrote:
"Being able to just get up and go. It's weird leaving the house without having to make sure that everyone has used the bathroom, has sunglasses, He-Man toys and anything else they may need for a trip to the grocery store."
Maybe THIS should have been #1! It's funny because if you don't intentionally PLAN on doing something without the kids around... you're so used to having to be home by "bedtime" that like the Millennium Falcon stuck in the Death Star's tractor beam, you'll be sucked back to the couch... only to realize after 15 minutes of silence that you could still be out somewhere... doing... whatever it is kidless people do.
5) FIGHTING: This doesn't actually change; it just shifts. It just means that it goes from the kids fighting... to you and your spouse fighting the fight's you've been meaning to get around to having but haven't been able to find the airspace to have them. And you can be louder too! No kids to wake up!
6) POO: My friend Elise wrote (as someone who has yet to experience the "kids away" oasis):
" what I'm looking forward to the most is not being involved with every single bodily function of two other humans. diapers, toilet, sneeze, puke etc etc"
You know how when your parents or in laws are around and you"accidentally, coincidentally and subtly" arrange it so they are the ones changing the poo because they "happen" to be holding them when it's "discovered"... it's like 3 days of that bliss. It's the reason I give when dog people badger me about not having a dog. There are enough living things that poo in my house already.
7) SLEEP: You know how adults have a 3-4 step waking up process? Kids aren't built with that. Their gig is to jump immediately out of bed, a minimum 1 hour before your alarm goes off, and decide that they should climb on your head to tell you that they love you. Sweet and all... but when they are gone... it's a WEE bit easier to sleep. The baby monitor is off so that gentle hum, that soothes you as much as them after half a decade, is missing. There are no middle of the night sheet changes... it should be easier to sleep you'd think.
The funny thing however. My body wakes up at the same time. It's been trained to be aware of the middle of the night on-goings. As it turns out, what I notice the most when the kids aren't around is #8.
8) THE UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK: And you wouldn't even if you could. Kids change you AND the functioning of your life. It makes you... fuller. It doesn't take long before you're left emotionally and physically scrambling to have the noise, the responsibility, the early morning "I love you daddy" wake ups back. Once you cross into this universe... you don't go back.
Last night during our kid-vacation, I momentarily debated whether I should go and coach Jared's baseball game (without Jared there) or not. I COULD have bailed and gone to a movie with my wife if I had had a couple of weeks to plan ahead. But this is my life. My life doesn't change because the kids are with their grandma. I LOVE this life. I care to care about it. I've chosen to work to create the best possible reality for my kids. I coached last night and Jared made me promise I'd call him to tell him the results.
I can't wait to hear his voice on the phone.