A trip alone, together
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Updated: October 9, 2012 11:27AM
As I’m writing this column, my husband and I are on a plane coming home from a five-plus day getaway to ring in our 25th wedding anniversary. I glance over at him from my laptop as he leisurely enjoys the latest Spiderman movie on our flight, a tan and rested version of the guy I rarely see in this state of movie-watching, pistachio-loving calm.
I find it hard not to smile, wondering why we never traveled without the kids all these years, as this was almost the first trip we’ve taken alone as a couple since our honeymoon. No, I’m not kidding.
Yes, we could’ve gone away without the kids before. And yes, I realize that it does recharge your marriage to do so. It’s just that the kids always wanted to come with on any vacation, and we both came from upbringings where you basically always traveled as a family. But now, with no one at home except a dog who loves his dog sitter, and kids doing their own thing in the city and at college, we’ve found yet one more perk of this new empty nester stage of life.
I smile again as I type, remembering that we did try once to go away for our 10-year anniversary, and that it was, shall I say, less than smooth. I dial back 15 years to Labor Day weekend, 1997, when we left our kids in the capable hands of our then “Mrs. Doubtfire-like” Saturday night babysitter to embark on a quick red-eye-flanked weekend in Las Vegas. With our oldest at age 8 and youngest just 3, leaving them for an evening let alone three full days seemed monumental. I was so exhausted back then, the typical young mom completely overwhelmed with organizing every detail of what her little ones would eat, drink, do and wear for a mere 72 hours without her.
The weather was beyond hot in Vegas that weekend, at least 115 degrees during the day and not much relief at night. My husband had booked tickets to see David Copperfield, and I distinctly remember catching a secret 40 winks during the show in true exhausted mom style.
The most vivid memory of our one trip sans kids was on Saturday night of that weekend, as we stopped back at our room for me to change purses.
“Wow, I think Queen Elizabeth died, Maria,” my husband relayed from our hotel room couch as I quickly brushed my hair in the bathroom. “On second thought, this sounds really bad. There’s something awful all over the news right now,” he added. In a split second as I reentered the room, I realized that in the midst of what was to be a special anniversary weekend away, Princess Diana had died in a car crash.
Like many who admired her good works, I began crying. Unfortunately for my husband, I could barely break away from the TV for the rest of the weekend. Who could ever forget the young princess, William and Harry, mourning the loss of their mother, the flowers blanketing the palace gates all week, the endless tears of all who couldn’t comprehend the tragic and unnecessary loss of someone so loved?
We quietly returned home from our trip, gave our kids extra big hugs, and resumed life as we knew it. We cherished our Saturday night dates that Mrs. Doubtfire’s dependable schedule afforded us.
And this past weekend, after so many years, we traveled again alone. And it was great and relaxing to be on our own vacation schedule. Life as we now know it will return tomorrow. I’ll text the kids as soon as we land. I want to hear all about their weekends and tell them about the wonderful resort we want to take them to as a family.
Lake Forester columnist Maria Malin can be reached at email@example.com.