Last week was a whirlwind for me. Flew to Boston on Friday. Spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in New England hitting five states in three days as was my goal. Arrived home late on Monday night. Put in my usual mom day on Tuesday beginning at 6:30 a.m. Whipped my way through laundry, grocery shopping, and packing so I could get up at 5 a.m. on Wednesday to head to the airport with my own mom to head to Vegas to celebrate her birthday there. Was in Vegas from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 8 p.m. yesterday. During our time in Vegas, my 70 year old mom and I did a ton of walking. I wish I’d been wearing a pedometer to measure it. (I mean, when do you go to Vegas and eat out for every meal and come home to discover you’ve actually lost weight on your vacation?) Today, a full week after my travel commenced, I collapsed. I love travel more than most things, but it was such a gift to be home today that I did nothing. Literally. No-thing. Not one thing. From 6:45 a.m. when I heard my boys wake up and head into the computer room to play Minecraft until 3 p.m., I sat in my bed. It was a stick-a-fork-in-me kind of day. I was done. Done physically. Done mentally. Done emotionally. I needed a day to recover from my vacations. Go figure.
Tonight, we went to spaghetti dinner at my dad’s church. Riding over in the car, it occurred to me that I hadn’t spent much time at all with my boys in over 7 days. While I was gone, I was too busy to miss them. Every moment of my travel had been filled with things to do. When they woke me up at 6:45 a.m., I wasn’t annoyed. I popped into their computer room and sat on the floor hugging them for a few minutes. Even though we were all home today, they spent most of their day playing outside with friends while I convalesced in my room. So tonight at dinner they had to keep telling me to stop hugging on them, staring at them, and telling them how handsome they are. I was embarrassing them with all the attention. I couldn’t help it, though. It wasn’t until tonight that I noticed how much I had missed them without even realizing it.
This evening I was reminded of why we need time away from our children. We need to step back a while so when we return we can savor them. How often do we get caught up in the day-to-day routine and fail to appreciate our kids for their creativity, their fourth-grade humor, and their dirty faces? The things about them that really get on my nerves when I’m faced with it day to day, like the way Joe likes to wipe his greasy, buttered hands on his nice shirts or the way Luke goes straight to whining mode when we mention it’s time to read, made me smile tonight. I had more patience for their antics. When we were finished with dinner, we drove them to a nearby playground and sat and watched them play for 15 minutes. Watched them play. I never take the time to do that, to simply be still and enjoy witnessing their childhoods. Today was a good reminder of why we leave our kids. If you can get beyond their sad faces when you’re leaving, beyond the forty text messages you receive from them daily when you’re gone, and the immediate question “what did you bring me” when you walk back in the door, you will discover that you actually missed the little buggers. You might just find out that they missed you too. But, you’ll have to leave first.