Yesterday morning was the last day of winter break for my kids, and shit, the last for me too if I am being honest. It was the last morning we could sleep in, the last morning I would walk downstairs by myself and do whatever the hell I wanted for about two hours straight as my house full of sleeping teens and tweens was quiet. The smell of coffee (not tears, or the sound of my voice asking the same questions over and over) lingered in our kitchen as I was finishing a workout, and I was able to start the day off with something that I cannot when we are living our regular life: peace. Which is something I did almost every day for the last two weeks during break.
By around 10 a.m. on a vacation day, I have had my full dose of peace, and I go wake my sleeping (huge) babies because I am ready to go have some fun, and they are the only people I want to spend time with, because more often than not, they are too busy for me these days. But during holiday break, (for the most part) they are all mine.
These school vacations mean something different to me now that they are getting older. We seem to need it, more than we did when they were younger. When your normal Monday through Friday consists of feeling like you are scrambling around all the damn time, trying not to forget this appointment, sporting event, meeting, or holy fuck, the damn permission slips (that were supposed to be signed last week), you welcome a break from the complete chaos with open arms. Sprinkle in some overtired kids whose hormones are in full-swing, and you more than welcome it — you crave it. Everyone needs the respite.
Like most families, my kids and I get cranky when we feel we are spread too thin, and we start to take it out on each other. As they get older, the quality time we spend together is getting less and less, with longer chunks of time in between. We try to connect over dinner, but there is always something waiting: homework, practice, chores, and we all feel it.
During school vacations, we are able to do and explore so many things now. I find myself wanting to get it all in during these years when my kids still live here full-time yet want to partake in activities that were a lot harder when they were younger. There are no diaper bags to pack, no double stroller to fold and haul, no scheduling every outing around nap time. We can visit different cities, go to an indoor rock gym, or have a long lunch where I can sip on a glass of wine (and it probably won’t even get spilled) and have long talks without any meltdowns or diaper blowouts.
Having nowhere else to be is glorious, even if it only lasts for a week or two. We are able to come up for air from our wonderful, hectic life and take it all in in a way we just can’t when things are straight-out.
A lot of people are thankful school started this week, and I get that. I remember when I felt more at peace when my kids were all back at school, I was done with their fighting, boredom, and the massive amounts of Legos and Barbies that would cover our floor. But as soon as I heard the alarm go off at 6 this morning, I cringed because I knew what was coming. Our life was going back to scheduled everything, with a race in between to make sure it all gets done, everyone has what they need, and I stay somewhat sane through it all. I wanted to go back in time and keep my kids on a more relaxed schedule for a bit longer, partly for them, but mostly for me.
So, no, I did not jump for joy today while seeing them off. We got through the morning hustle and bustle (we always get through, just some mornings are more graceful than others), and when I was able to take a breath and sit in the empty quiet house, I didn’t find the peace that comes to me when they are all here, sleeping, watching a movie, or lingering a little longer at the dinner table.
Because the peace a mother gets from a full, happy house is not the same kind of peace she gets from an empty house. It just isn’t. And honestly, I am counting down the days until the next time I can wake them late in the morning and say, “Please get up. I am dying to get fast food and go see a movie with you because we have nowhere else to be, and it is going to be glorious.”