Do you have time for a story? I promise to keep it shortish --and entertaining.
Several years ago, I was on bedrest with Jack (6 months of bedrest, but who is counting). I was sick and tired of being cooped up and wanted to go -- go anywhere.
When Dennis would get home from work, I would tell him about the places I had researched or the temperature in some far away place. He smiled and listened.
After Jack's arrival, my darling husband came home and told me that he had booked a trip -- a 5 night Caribbean cruise for two. Our beloved Robbie was scheduled to watch the kids.
I started to cry -- but not the happy cry you are imagining. I was so upset and couldn't imagine leaving 2 year old Nola and 12 week old Jack. I was still nursing and was certain an irresponsible trip would scar my young children for life. What in heavens was this man thinking?
He was confused and a bit stunned. I had planned a million possible trips while on bedrest, leading him to believe that this was my heart's deepest desire. Now I was crying and saying that I didn't want to go. His face. I can remember it to this day.
As the trip approached, Robbie, along with Dennis encouraged me to go --saying "a little sun would do you good." I mustered up all of my brave and started doing all sorts of completely normal things like: making a will, calling my best friends to let them know where the will, ink still wet, was being housed and my personal favorite: making Robbie swear to call us if 2 year old Nola even muttered our names. Not an exaggeration.
From there, I hopped on a plane and cried most of the way to Florida. I'm sure this was just the trip that Dennis imagined.
As the ship pulled out of port, I fell face first on the bed and told Dennis that I was the worst mother in the world. I called the kids one last time (in case we never returned from some horrific buffet tragedy) and sat on the bed and sulked.
Dennis laid down next to me and said, "This was a terrible idea. I am so sorry I made you do this." That was it --the sentence that turned it all around. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. He is so kind and gentle -- so generous, and here I was pouting like a child. I decided to get dressed for dinner. My guy deserved at least a thank you and some food in his tummy.
The next morning I awoke with a new attitude.
And by the time dinner rolled around, I was leading the conga line with a virgin daiquiri in my hand! (I don't drink, but that is another post.)
We snorkeled. We fished. We sat on the beach.
This is how our annual (and occasionally semi-annual) "mommy & daddy" trips came to be. From that year until now, we have carved out time every year to devote to our friendship and marriage. What can easily be viewed as selfish is actually self-care. It recharges our parenting batteries and sets the tone for our family.
As a photographer, I love capturing images of others. So much so, that I am rarely on the opposite end of the lens. I decided, much to Dennis's dismay, that these trips deserve a place in our scrapbook. That is how the tradition of destination photo sessions began. He hates it. Really he does, but he is good sport and goes along with it. Plus, who doesn't want to look back at a picture like this when they are 80 and say, "Man, we were something back in the day!"
As far as our travels go, we each play an important role. I spend countless hours reading about destinations, searching for experiences, hunting down markets, restaurants and unusual little treasures. I memorize city and subway maps (never my intention, but it turns out to be a great talent to have) and my favorite -- securing boutique hotels or a quaint bed and breakfast. When I am done on my end, Dennis takes over in the hunt for flights, transfers, cars, money exchange and security. I am a risk taker and would go almost anywhere. Dennis on the other hand is cautious and level headed. (Meaning Istanbul will probably remain a dream.) Aren't we a pair!
Are you wondering how are kids do with this? I am happy to say, EXCELLENT. They stay with our amazing family, which includes Robbie of course. Often we FaceTime or call -- and they don't want to stop what they are doing to come to the phone. This is really the best case scenario for us. We send them video messages of us doing silly things at famous places and always bring back traditional candy from our travels. They love it and so do we!
If some alone time has been laid upon your heart, take a moment to entertain the idea. Investing in yourself or in your spouse will be worth it. I promise. Give it a try -- you'll see.