Sometimes as parents, we need a hard reset. I can tell I need
one when I start groaning that every time I sit down to relax, someone
announces, "I’m hungry!" Or my life starts to feel like a perpetual Groundhog
Day of waking up at 6 in the morning and feeding people. Or my purpose seems
to be chiseled down to the busy, thankless work of tending to the endless
laundry and dishes, and nagging the kids to eat and get dressed and brush their
To give myself something to live for in the dreary depths of
winter when our whole family suffers from cabin fever, every year for the last few years, I’ve planned a spring weekend getaway—to
get away from my family. This year, a close friend and I spent the weekend in an
Airbnb rental a few hours away on the Maine coast.
When I got to our home for the weekend, I was struck by the simplicity
of my surroundings and by its tidy, streamlined charm. It provided a stark
contrast between our family home, which is, in this thick season of
child-rearing, perpetually clogged with toys, paper and laundry pileups.
The feeling of open space wasn’t just contained to the apartment
we rented. By Saturday morning, I could feel myself uncoil. My body relaxed as
I realized the only one whose needs I’d have to take care of that weekend were
The only one who’d wake me up would be my own bladder.
The only person I needed to worry about feeding? Me.
For an entire weekend, I sipped coffee while lingering in my
pajamas for the morning. I caught up with my friend over delicious Thai food. I
wrote. Stretched out on the couch, I read an entire novel from start to finish.
An. Entire. Book.
The sheer demands of parenting can
threaten to erase our own desires, our dreams, our depth—the person we
used to be.
But the point of my annual weekend away isn’t about what I
accomplished or even how much I relaxed. It’s about remembering that there was
a version of me that existed before my kids were born. That version devours
books, dreams about revisiting Spain, and takes long, winding walks. She loves
road trips and pajama days. She eats snacks in bed and goes to concerts. An
older version of her will exist when my kids are grown.
While mothering reshapes us and matures us, while it stretches
the muscles of our hearts and our patience, the sheer demands of parenting can
also threaten to erase our own desires, our dreams, our depth—the person we
used to be. By taking a weekend away from my husband and kids, I get reunited
And, away from the trenches, I have the space to realize how
much I love my life and how lucky I am to have two healthy kids, a loving husband and a career I adore.
When I return, they tackle me with hugs and exclamations of
“MAMA!” We huddle together like puppies. I take in their smell, the way their
hands feel in mine.
I come back more present. I soak in my kids’ sweet faces, amazed
by how fast they are growing, how big they are getting. I drink them in,
delighted by my son’s unstoppable energy and the sweetness of my daughter’s singsong
All that space I created over the weekend? It’s overflowing with