Overheard on my FaceTime: “Mommy, why did you go away?”
Mommy: “So I can poop alone.”
An over simplification, to be sure. However, that snarky snippet holds a nugget of truth.
Mommy went on vacation with her friends- A “ladybro” if you will, aka bro-ing out with her lady friends-to have a complete thought. To spend time with people who have known her for decades.
Mommy went on vacation with her friends because Mommy likes to travel, and generally, Daddy does not.
Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she has a very intense job, in addition to motherhood, and needs to be reminded, at times, that people move through the world and experience joy, and sunshine, and karaoke.
Finally, and quite simply: Mommy went on vacation with her friends because she wanted to. Daddy is a person who thinks it’s important Mommy does things she wants to do, and helped Mommy work out all the details to make it happen.
I want my girls to grow up and have an image in their head of independence. Of knowing that they are able to do things on their own. That hopefully, they will have more courage and more know-how to pursue travel, and experiences, and the figuring out of the things, earlier in their life than I have.
And if, despite my best efforts, they don’t, that it is never too late to learn new things, to explore, to dream, and find new parts of themselves.
I don’t want my children to fall prey to the STILL pervasive trope of Mom being unable to leave because Dad cannot handle the children. If Dad went away for ten days, I GUARANTEE no one would ask him, “But who is watching the kids?”
“The same people who always watch my children when I don’t,” I tell them, “Their father, and their grandparents.” (And yes, some extra help from grandparents, because they can’t watch themselves when Dad is at work and they aren’t at school, and I’m not there. And no, I didn’t set up the schedule before I left, as their father is a sentient being who knows when he needs childcare.)
I understand that vacations aren’t a universal choice for ways for women to take care of themselves. However, in the spirit of the ladybro, I DO believe it is universally important for women, and specifically mothers, to put themselves and their needs on the list of Things to Do-and to sometimes put themselves first. The house, the kids, the responsibilities, whatever they may be- we are programmed to feel it will all fall apart if we are not tending to them, day and night.
There are times this is true. However, the majority of the time, it is not true. The truth is that we are made to feel guilty if we delegate, neglectful if we share responsibilities or simply let things go, and anxious things won’t be done “right” if we don’t do them ourselves.
Who makes us feel these things? Sometimes it is a specific person in our life- a friend, a relative, a parent. But most often it is the anonymous Everybody who controls our inner voice. Everybody thinks we are a selfish, terrible mother if we do not do All The Mom Things 100% of the time.
I also know I wasn’t born with any special know how of how to run a household. I have learned, and am learning, by doing it. Particularly in heterosexual couples- if your husband DOESN’T take care of the kids, no, he won’t know how to do it. Or the laundry. Or anything else. But these days there is an excellent chance your husband lived on his own before he lived with you. He didn’t always have dirty clothes; nor did he starve to death. Therefore, it is highly likely he can remember how to take care of himself without you around, and probably also figure out your offspring need the same basic things.
Will he do them “right?” Maybe. It is likely he will make mistakes. However, as a mom who has left the house with no diapers, arrived at school with no backpacks, and lost an entire bag of clothes on the last family vacation-my own shortcomings keep me humble. I also know that the more times I do something, the fewer mistakes I make.
Yes, I miss my kids, and my husband. And they miss me. But like I told my daughter:
“When you are a grown up,” I told my daughter, “If you decide to have babies, Mommy will help watch them so you can go on vacation with your friends whenever you want.”