A friend of mine once gave me the advice to go on vacation alone with my husband after my son turned one. She told me it would be fun, good for my marriage, and would reunite us in the love that gave us our son in the first place. She was right, but it wasn’t easy getting on that plane. In fact, it was horrifying.
My husband and I decided to go to Europe. We took a few minitrips, one night here, two nights there away from our son over the six months leading up to our big nine-day European adventure. Those trips were difficult, but weren’t too far away. So, if God forbid we needed to get home quickly, we could. When you fly to Europe, you’re there—far, far away.
The week leading up to the trip, I was a wreck. I cried a lot while trying to pack and organize. I warned my husband that as much as I wanted to spend special time with him, he might have to drag me to the airport. I even gave him permission to do so. He kept offering to cancel the trip—such a great guy—but I kept pushing forward, saying, “No, we have to do this, I have to do this!”
It is embarrassing to say, but my biggest fears were that something would happen to my son, needing stitches or something, or that something would happen to me and my husband, like a plane crash. I am writing this not to sound like a crazy person (though I know I sound like one), but to reassure, because I know there are people who are afraid to travel for those exact reasons. My best friend told me to write my son a letter giving him all the life advice I hoped to teach him over the years. Although morbid and difficult to write, it really gave me comfort. I sent him an email to his Gmail account that we have set up for him to use one day. (My husband and I have been writing him messages there since his birth.) We also spent time putting together our will, so that our son would be taken care of if something did happen.
When the day arrived, it was, as expected, a mess. I was a mess. I cried as I tried to leave, which then caused my son to cry. He was scared to see me so upset. As my mother held him and hollered from the balcony, “Just leave, you’re making it worse,” I debated running back upstairs and hugging my son one more time. But my husband hugged me, and we got into the Uber we hired to take us to the airport. I couldn’t breathe. I suddenly broke out into the ugly cry—you know, the one you only see a few times a year. The poor driver handed me a box of tissues. He was very concerned, not being privy to the situation. Halfway to the airport, he asked my husband if he should turn around and my husband said, “Nope, keep driving, she’ll be okay.” Just as he promised.
I was okay, after a glass of wine on the plane. Yup, I cried while going through security, but “the silent cry,” thank goodness. As we took off, and I watched the Golden Gate Bridge disappear, I took a deep breath. I was doing this. I wasn’t letting fear control my life. When we landed, I called my mom, who told me everything was fine at home. I then suddenly had this rush of joy and empowerment. I did it. I was so proud of myself.
From that moment on, I was able to enjoy every minute of my vacation with my husband. We had romantic dinners without food being thrown or forks being slammed against the table like a drum. We even laughed a few days into the trip that we missed our chaotic dinners. We Facetimed with our son every day (not sure how moms did this before Facetime) and we had a wonderful trip. Plus, my son had a blast with his grandparents, which was also a beautiful gift. My husband and I remembered that we once were just us, and out of the rat race that is parenting, we were able to fully appreciate all the joy our son had brought us.
After returning, we suddenly were expecting our second son. I plan to take a special trip with my husband again after he turns one. I’m sure I will be a wreck again, but it’s totally worth it. I am writing this to give other women strength. You too can do this. You too should do this. Take some time with your partner. The greatest gift you can give your child is the example of a beautiful relationship.