My summer vacation (from parenting)

Big Sur

I've always believed in the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing.

I miss my kids.

I’m happy. But I miss my kids.

This is always how I feel on vacation. I love getting away. I need to refresh, revitalize, re-engage with my husband. Life gets too tiring if you never take those well earned sabbaticals. But still, even knowing how important it is to take those breaks from mothering and just be a woman, a partner, a tourist, doesn’t make it any easier. Why is it that your kids seem exponentially cuter, sweeter, and more irresistible the minute you lose sight of them?

I’m a firm believer in absence making the heart grow fonder. Sometimes I think the whole purpose of going away is to get that rush of coming home feelings. My husband and I try to take adult only vacations every year or two. But most of the married couples I know have never taken a trip sans children. Truth be told, they don’t have relationships I envy. My parents travelled annually without my sister and me throughout my childhood. They left me with sitters, grandparents, or teachers who were happy to moonlight for a few extra bucks. It never dawned on them to give up their romantic getaways because they were parents. If anything, being parents made them realize how badly they needed time away to reconnect and remember why they’d come together in the first place.

My mom once told me without a modicum of regret that she put her husband first, even ahead of her two daughters. I think this was a fairly common sentiment amidst our parents’ generation. It went along with the whole “children should be seen and not heard” credo. But to put your adult desires ahead of your children’s perceived emotional requisites in today’s world is to commit the unthinkable. Only selfish, unfeeling parents would abandon their little ones for a week or two of adult adventure.

But allow me to challenge those beliefs for a moment. To all of you who wouldn’t think of leaving the little ones for a little grown-up R & R, ask yourselves this: If you took a few days to focus on you, to rebuild your partnership with your spouse, to reinvent yourselves as a couple, wouldn’t that be of value to your children? Isn’t part of our job as parents to model a healthy, loving adult relationship for our kids?

So take a day, a week, maybe even two (if you’ve got willing in-laws). But get away from being a parent for a while. You’ll be astounded by who you are when you return.

What’s in a name? Everything!

Serious question: Is it okay to call your spouse “mom” or “dad” or any derivation thereof? I’m not judging. It just seems weird to me. I admit that sometimes I refer to myself as “mommy.” Like when I say to my kids, “Mommy is tired right now and needs a few more sips of her Grey Goose Martini. I’ll join you in a few minutes…” And there are plenty of times when I say things like, “Why don’t you go and ask Daddy to help you open that ridiculously packaged toy that even a safe-cracker would have trouble unhinging.”

But I consciously try very hard not to call my husband “daddy.” That just seems so…so…Oedipal or Electra or whatever you call it. But I’ve noticed that lots of parents do that. So I’m wondering, is it just me or is this a little demented? I mean, are there statistics on couples who call each other parental names? Do they end up divorced more frequently? Or more likely, do they find themselves in safe but frigid marriages that are more based on codependency than mutual respect and attraction?

Every once in a while my husband will slip and call me “mom.” Boy does my ire-o-meter go off. “First of all, I am not your mother,” I immediately bite back, “I don’t want that job and frankly you couldn’t pay me enough to take on that responsibility.” (Note to readers, my hubbie’s mom is a lovely woman whom I happen to adore. Still, I don’t really know how she managed to allow my husband to grow into adulthood without turning to drugs, alcohol or cutting out his tongue.)

But the bigger question is, “Doesn’t calling your wife ‘mommy’ somehow destroy the passion in your physical relationship?” I mean the connotations are just…just…icky. I can’t be the only person who notes this and is bothered by it. Can I?

Please, tell me the truth. If you call your husband “daddy,” are you secretly wishing he’d pull you into his strong arms and tickle you till you puked as opposed to enfolding you into a romantic embrace that leads to a different kind of ecstasy? Is the whole “mommy” thing proof that you no longer see your wife as the lustful, erotic goddess she once was, and have now relegated her to the lowly position of chief cook, laundress and child-care provider?

I am troubled by this. Set me straight.