“The purpose of a vacation is to have the time to rest. But many of us, even when we go on vacation, don’t know how to rest. We may even come back more tired than before we left.” –Nhat Hanh
For the last nine days my husband has been at a conference in Australia. When he originally planned this conference, it was going to be an opportunity for the whole family to head down to Sydney to visit our family (2 of my husband’s sisters and their kids. A total of 5 cousins + 1 on the way). As the trip neared, we realized the cost and energy it was going to require to take the whole family was more than we were up for. Yet he was locked into the conference, so that was going to leave me alone with the kids for a loooong time. I started searching for back up. Unfortunately, both of my parents were unavailable for the week with my mother moving to a new home for the first time in nearly 25 years and my dad busy with other family obligations. So, I asked my mother-in-law if she would want to come spend the week with us. Thankfully, she said yes. I only had to fly solo for three days before she arrived. When I mentioned to some neighborhood friends that I would be spending a week with my mother-in-law, sans my husband, they looked at me funny as if to say, “Are you crazy?”. For some, a week with their mother-in-law would be torture. Fortunately for me, I hit the jackpot in the mother-in-law department when I married my husband. She is the most enthusiastic, energetic, and perpetually helpful grandmother I could ever ask for. She devours her time with the kids and shoos me away to take a break. Kids wake up at 5:30am? No problem. She jumps out of bed to play with them and insists I get some more sleep. Kids bouncing off the walls? Before I can form a game plan, she’s putting on their shoes to get them out to play. Dinners, cleaning, and endless babysitting. She’s making homemade bread with them, going on walks, bike rides at the park, trains into the city, and building with legos. Seriously, she does it all. This week has been so great with her here that I have felt as though I’m on a mama staycation. There’s been this perfect balance between spending time focusing on my self care and also engaging with them and the fun they’re having. I’ve been to yoga three days this week, finally had the time to finish painting the bathroom, worked on a few cleaning and organizing projects, had lunch and dinner with several girlfriends, and even took myself to the movies. Meanwhile, I also had a blast at the local art festival with the kids, had more time to focus on each kid individually because another adult was always around, and was able to feel more energized playing with the kids. Talk about dream week for mama!
I miss my husband terribly (and have to wait ONE more day for him to return because his flight was delayed an entire day!). But I must say, having his mom here in his place has been delightful. Oh how life would be different if this support were available to us on a regular basis. But since grandparent help only comes a handful of times a year, I have learned to just make the best of it when it’s available. And then count the days until we get it again.