Note to self: when vacationing without children, do not go anywhere particularly kid-friendly. I say this because I’m out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with my husband enjoying some seriously needed down time. Not much to do. Nowhere to be. Simple pleasures of hiking, biking, moose-watching, and so on. But there are kids everywhere. And each one is cuter than the next. Why? Because they’re not mine. And on top of that, the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” stuff is definitely true. I miss my kids.
I miss them so much it hurts. That seems weird to me. Because most of the time that I’m with them I spend fantasizing about being away from them. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my children. But trying to manage a home, pursue a meaningful career, and take care of two young boys is more than overwhelming to me. I want to be the June Cleaver of sitcom fame. But I’m not. I’m more a child-laden version of Mary Richards from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Imagine me, in the middle of a snowy Minnesota roadway, tossing my infamous beret into the air and trying to catch it victoriously while also reigning in two impish little creatures who think it’s just fun to dart into the street between racing taxi cabs. It’s really not a workable scenario.
I really am torn between being a full-time mother and using my time on the planet to create meaning for myself personally. It’s a conundrum in which many of us find ourselves. We gave up lucrative and often fulfilling professions to be moms. We don’t regret it exactly. We know, deep in our souls, that bringing precious life into this world and raising it with care, love and respect, is clearly our highest calling. But that doesn’t help get us through the daily monotony that clouds our psyches and makes us question the reason for our very existence.
This vacation was supposed to help me relax. Help me stop struggling with the big issues that harass me on a daily basis. But seeing all these kids and happy families makes me feel selfish and more like a maternal failure than ever before. Why am I here alone, without my kids, when everyone else seems to be managing exceedingly well with their children in tow. None of these mommies needed “alone” time. They all look perfectly well adjusted, capable and happy. What is wrong with me?
Maybe next year I’ll go somewhere where they don’t allow kids. “Out of sight out of mind” as they say. Perhaps I’ll find a nice all-inclusive adult-only resort somewhere in the Bahamas where I wont feel bad about myself for being there. Of course, there’ll probably be tons of childless women there who wont have c-section scars or cellulite. That might highlight a whole different class of personal flaws for me. I guess maybe I just can’t win.