I’ve been writing my final LTYM recap since it happened, and it’s not finished. I also have a post in draft about our Vegas vacation, but that’s not finished either.
Life’s been a blur of end-of-the-year school stuff and maybe too maybe extracurricular commitments, and I seriously still haven’t finished the laundry from our vacations. And since my story in this year’s show was (sort of) about packing, I thought it would be the perfect time to share it.
Leaving (for) Las Vegas
I recently boarded a plane and soared across the country to celebrate my 40th birthday, my husband’s 40th birthday and the 40th birthdays of several close friends. I don’t actually turn 40 until August, which I like to remind people, as though the few months between now and then make a difference when it comes to crow’s feet, gravity, and the sure and absolute knowledge that I’ll soon be on the other side of that milestone birthday.
It’s not the first time we’ve left the kids for a weekend away.
Thanks to my pretty amazing mother, my husband and I spend a long weekend away once a year, a weekend the kids use to soak up relaxed screen time limits and to eat cake for breakfast.
They’re still young enough to share their cake breakfast stories with eyes wide open in wonder as they stare at the ever-boring low-sugar oatmeal I foist upon them most mornings. Grandma doesn’t worry about their sugar intake or say no to ice cream. She doesn’t tell them to hurry, and they love her in a way that approaches hero worship. My gratitude that they get to have that special relationship with her makes up for any amount of sugar withdrawals I deal with when we return.
We usually use the weekend to recharge a little. Las Vegas, though, isn’t the sort of city that lends itself to recharging. Lights and noise and the most incredible people watching teem from everywhere you look, at all hours of the day and night, and at almost-but-not-quite-40, I knew I’d need to summon up the sort of energy the kids show on a regular basis, energy they’d be using on their own while we were gone.
See, my mom decided she’d make the most of her time with them by driving them a little bit north and staying at an indoor waterpark for a couple of days. The kids practically bounced through the roof when I told them, and my daughter and I started making packing lists, because when I feel anxious about being too many miles to count away from my kids, while they’re careening down waterslides, I make at least 37 lists, do 17 loads of laundry, and clean every bathroom in the house.
We packed days before we left, even though some of my packing had to be done without my ultra-observant daughter in the room. Getting away from the kids means doing things I wouldn’t normally do. So I made sure the bedroom door was closed and swept my secret stash of goodies into the suitcase. My secret stash consisted of Starburst jelly beans and Cadbury mini eggs I’d scored during a post-Easter sale. I wasn’t sharing those, not even with a girl who made me not one, but two, friendship bracelets before we left — bracelets that matched the two she wore on her own wrist.
Even with everything checked off my lists, my stomach clenched at the thought of leaving. I knew the kids would be safe at the waterpark with my mom. After all, my son once said, “She’s like another mom, but probably more fun.” I knew she’d sooner don a thong bikini and do cannonballs into the lazy river than let any harm come to them.
I didn’t even worry — much — about our plane catapulting into the Grand Canyon, though in the days leading up to any flight my husband and I take together, I panic and consider buying one of us a ticket on another flight.
It’s just that, at 7 and 9, my kids are FUN to be around. They’re up for impromptu walks or bike rides around the neighborhood and they shout out sometimes correct and sometimes hilariously incorrect answers during Wheel of Fortune. They know enough not to shout out the curse words they hear on my unedited playlists but not quite enough to ask about some of the innuendos we sing along to on the radio.
We’re kind of at a sweet spot of parenting, and the hardest part of packing for Las Vegas was how much I worried about missing them.
I did, of course, miss them. And they missed us, in the way that led to some amazing hugs when we walked through the door, just before they fell over each other talking about their fantastic-most-fun-time-ever time. And we felt the same, I think, knowing the craziest part of the whole weekend might have been just how excited we were to get home.