This past spring, I boarded a plane alone. For the first time since collage, I was traveling solo, without my husband or children for company. It was slightly exhilarating, although the reason was solemn; my uncle had passed away, and I was spending two nights away from home to attend his memorial service.
As an attached parent, leaving my children is not a choice I make lightly. Sure, we leave them with trusted babysitters so we can have a date night. In nine years of parenting, we have left them all for an extended period of time just once, and even then it was with my parents. I have never gone away alone, overnight, unless it was a medical emergency! I simply couldn’t, or didn’t want to, leave my Herd.
A few factors played into my decision. One was the gravity of the situation. Although I have no problem with people taking pleasure trips alone, I am more likely to leave my family for something like a funeral than a girls’ weekend away. Another was the distance. It was too far to drive, and there were no direct flights. Traveling alone, I could share a rental car with someone rather than having to rent a van for all of us. I would also be allowed to mourn in peace, without having to help my children manage their own intense feelings.
Finally, I felt confident that my children would be fine without me. I was leaving them in the care of their father, who had taken a day off work to manage the Herd. My youngest is three and no longer nursing. Engineer Husband is a perfectly capable father who changes diapers, cooks meals, and gives baths. The house might be messier than I would like when I got home, but the children would be well cared for, and it would be a great bonding time for the five of them.
I missed my children and husband while I was gone, but I did take pleasure in some of the perks of being alone. I had my own hotel room and a bed all to myself! I showered without worrying someone was trying to sneak out of the room. I watched “grown-up programs” like the news and caught up with my cousins, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years. I met and had uninterrupted conversations with many new people. I grew closer to my extended family, all while honoring a wonderful man.
When I got home, I snuggled with my children and told them all about my trip. I answered their questions about the memorial and gave them kisses “sent” from their aunts. The Herd missed me, but the older ones understood why I had left. Honestly, the reason I traveled was sad, but I came home refreshed. When people asked how I did away from my family, I almost felt bad saying I had a great time! Traveling solo when you have young children and are an attachment parent isn’t for everyone, but it was the right choice for us at the right time. I am glad I did it.
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