The world, I believe, is divided into two kids of couples – the ones who holiday with the kids, and the ones who don’t (there are, of course, those who fall in between, but they remain irresolutely on the fringes).
We, till about a week ago, were quite firmly and utterly incontrovertibly the former. All our holidays for the past eight years – i.e. pre-first baby- have been with kids and all the paraphernalia that goes with it – you know, the occupy-them-on-journey games, the read-at-bedtime-books, the what-if extra pair of clothes, the can’t-leave-home-without them toys, the worst-case-scenarios medicines, the diapers, formulas, sterilizers, towels, potty seats, agh- the list is endless, and yet, totally relatable (not a real word but oh so apt) to any mother (not going to say father. Yes I know there are exceptions) who has packed for a holiday with the kids.
That, however, changed last week. And in such an unplanned and completely out-of-character way that it still makes me wonder if we really did this. But we did and I’ll tell you, it was the best thing that happened to us. Don’t get me wrong, I felt guilty about leaving the kids (a guilt that melted away, quite magically, as the aircraft lifted-off towards our holiday and hubby and I played scrabble on the iPad in an almost unsettling silence, without some kid snatching it to play Temple-Run, or, worse, Dress-Up! See what I mean?)
So how did it happen? Well, I was talking to husband about a friend who lives in Goa (for those who don’t know, it’s a beach haven in India) and before we knew it, he was searching for flights in a general, how-much-does-it cost kind of way. Cleartrip threw up some very enticing numbers for a weekend, with air-fare and hotel costs bundled into a most alluring sum. It was a random Sunday evening and we’d had some wine; I sighed and said, only half-seriously, that we could think about it. I didn’t think he’d react, more because he knows my obsessive mothering disposition only too well. But, he’d had some wine too, which had probably had the dual (and extremely fruitful) effect of dulling his doubts and honing his confidence in my letting-go abilities. Anyway, long story short, we bought the trip. That was that. There was then no going back (Cleartrip does not let you).
In the next two weeks I went through mixed angst, which, of course, I completely shielded from the husband. I wanted him to see the new-me, the new, I-can-do-this me. So I nonchalantly walked about the house ignoring and pretending that the storm in my head was really my imagination; that I was this cool mum who was not going to fret about what time the kids would sleep or if they’d eat well and all of that. I completely resisted any what-if scenarios and did not even tell the kids till much later.
Instead, I called my mum. Wonderful as she is, she promised to stay the weekend (they live six hours away). And that was it. I knew it would happen.
Not only did it happen, it was glorious. Like a love-soaked honeymoon. It was hard leaving the kids, yes. And my older daughter (who knows only too well how to touch those buttons) was upset and cried a lot. She understood but didn’t accept it. Once my mum came, she was better. Once I was out of sight she was better than better! (any mother can attest the fact that kids reserve their worst behavior for their mothers – I still do.)
The weekend was unreal, and not only in a no-wailing-toddlers way (though that was a welcome change that took some getting used to). It was splendid because of the time that we spent together, most of which was spent talking, and not about the kids – something we tend to do so much when we are home. We talked about sundry things, drank copious amounts, unabashedly slept-in till late – sigh, it was perfect, so perfect that when I returned, I refused to jump back into reality (of course, I was pulled into it headlong)
So now we are one of “those” couples. I’ve crossed over to the other side, one to which I did not ever imagine I would. It is a side towards which I have always looked with a covetous (though detached) distance. And now, here I am, with a foolish grin on my face, completely rejuvenated, basking with contentment, glowing with utter joy and wondering why I didn’t do this earlier.
Our next holiday will be with the kids. Yes, that is true. The guilt has not left me. It had dissipated temporarily, but has been cajoled out of its dormancy by the kids and the control-freak mommy in me. Also, it’s not about guilt really. We do love our holidays with the kids, the paraphernalia notwithstanding.
We’re not making any rules about this or that – some holidays make sense with kids and some don’t, that’s the reality. Earlier we’d just never consider the latter. Now, we’ve tasted blood, and also realized that some things are bigger in your head. Of course, it’s not like one can mindlessly get away without thinking about who will take care of the kids, but the thing is that it can be done, with a little effort.And that effort is so so worth it.
I feel connected (for lack of a better word, really) to the husband again. Our lives have been so different in the past years, with him sinking himself into work and me into the house and kids, that this time together has breathed new life into our relationship.
I will always remember Goa as the place where I fell in love with him all over again. That, for me, is a priceless. Hopefully, when my kids grow up and do this for themselves, they’ll understand why their parents needed to do this.