I recently got on an airplane all by myself.
If you are a parent (who doesn’t travel for work), you might understand how mind-blowing this is. While I was waiting in line to check-in for my flight, I didn’t have to wrestle a small wriggling human body at the end of my arm. Going to the bathroom, I didn’t have to worry about a screaming, irate baby that was strapped like an angry barnacle to my chest. Riding the train to get to my terminal, I didn’t have to argue with anyone about their inability to stop licking the hand poles. I simply walked up to the airplane and got on. It was magical.
The reason all this happened was because my husband was going to a conference and I decided to tag along. So through a Sisyphean effort, I managed to finagle my mom and dad into watching our kids. I booked a cheap flight, and then I left — planning to spend my time writing and getting caught up on work without distractions.
I hadn’t really been away from my kids in a non-vacation way since they were born, and I have to say that I was truly surprised at all the things about myself that I began to remember as the days went by.
1. I’m a fun person.
I really am. In a non-kid world, I don’t argue with people about sugary drinks. I don’t order people to cover their mouths when they cough, or tell people to stop dilly-dallying while washing their hands. Which brings me to…
2. The words hiney, potty, gee whiz, and dilly-dallying are not a part of my normal vocabulary.
I became a parent, and all of a sudden, I’m starring as June Cleaver in a Leave It to Beaver episode where I’m all, “gosh darn” and “holy cow” and “you better settle down, mister.”
3. I have thoughts.
Real, actual thoughts about things that don’t have anything to do with what Harry Potter might do next, or about the plausibility of deranged dragons hiding in dark rooms.
4. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m actively screwing someone up.
This was much more freeing than I realized.
5. My husband and I like each other.
It was wonderful to be able to have a full conversation without ever having to do the universal one-finger-up-in-the-air-wait-your-turn maneuver because a 9-year-old has to immediately tell you about something that’s probably dumb.
6. Dinner is enjoyable when everyone around me actually wants to eat it.
I don’t have to bribe myself with dessert to eat three more bites of my chicken. I just eat the freaking chicken.
7. I’m relatively drama-free.
During a normal day, I don’t ever cry, scream, or throw myself upon the ground — which makes time by myself filled with much less drama than I normally experience when I’m with my kids.
8. I can get out the door very quickly.
I know right where I left my shoes, and I don’t ever have to suddenly poop once I get myself buckled into the car.
9. I like going to the bathroom all by myself.
I do. There is no panic-stricken hollering for my whereabouts, or love notes being passed under the door, or the ominous sound of water running from somewhere in the house.
10. Grown-up movies are very enjoyable.
I’m usually too tired to watch an entire grown-up movie after my kids go to sleep. I found the experience to be quite nice and I didn’t even miss the talking animals.
11. Silence is weird.
I think my ears rang for the first 24 hours. I don’t think you realize how much kids talk until you aren’t around them. They talk. So much. It hurts.
12. Staying up late is how life should be lived.
I was shocked to remember that I am a morning person for survival purposes only. Someday, far in the future, I shall return to being the night owl kind of person that I really dream of being, and all will be bliss.
13. I like only having to monitor my own manners, pants-wearing, and hygiene.
I am successful at all of these things consistently, I’m proud to say.
14. I like myself a little more when I’m not always parenting.
I’m just a bit more enjoyable to be around when I’m not constantly telling someone to get their hands out of their pants.
15. But the thing I realized the MOST is that I really really miss my kids when they aren’t around.
I missed their sweet, annoying voices and their sticky, disgusting little hands. I missed their dirty faces and their messed-up vocabularies. They are the cheapest entertainment and the best decision I ever made, and really, the silence got old after awhile.