I arrived in Turks and Caicos a week ago today. The plane flew over the most exquisite turquoise water I had only read about, and then landed in our destination that I had been dreaming about for months. I had never in my entire life felt as desperate for time Out than I did for this trip. I was yearning for sleep, begging for quiet time with Tim, crying for peace and quiet and time for Me. A week prior I had been worried and unhappy. I was newly relieved from our recent good news but still jittery and uneasy inside.
A week ago today, my dreams of sun and sand became reality. I stepped off the plane into the 80 degree warmth and slid my sunglasses over my eyes. I grabbed Tim’s hand and my other hand was Free. No child’s hand was there to grab my other Free hand. No one was there to squirm out of my reach and run into the crowds of fellow passengers. No one was thirsty. Hungry. Uncomfortable. My bag over my shoulder was void of sippy cups, diapers, crackers, Yoo Hoos, crayons and lollipops (although I did find two spare Matchbox cars as I reached for my lipgloss). All that my bag held were my flip flops, Us magazine, my book, gum, lipgloss and my iPod. A true testament that I was Away.
But my mind? Still did not feel Free.
The day to day worries of my kids were still swishing around in my head. Did I leave all the medicines where they could easily be found? Should I have mentioned that the handle of the tricycle was broken and to be careful in the street? Did my parents/inlaws know to watch Luke in the driveway because he bolts toward the street? Should I have left better suggestions for meal time? Would Luke be sad each morning? Would Hannah be a good listener? The list went on. I wondered as I waited for my luggage, whether at any time during my vacation if I’d actually feel Away. Does a mom ever feel Away?
And as much as I needed this vacation, this break from the chaos, I felt like a limb was missing. To not have to have my eyes peeled at all moments and my head cocked to the side listening for a waking baby or trouble ensuing in the next room was so odd. To not have to be constantly glancing at my watch for snack time, meal time, naptime, witching hour time, was Uncomfortable. Every wimper I heard around me jerked me around to be sure Hannah and Luke were ok. Every child I heard shouting for Mommy tensed the muscles in my back. I remember when I graduated from business school, I wondered what on earth I’d do with all of my free time. Here, on vacation, I wondered what I’d do with my two Free hands/ears/eyes.
The completely relaxed Ahhhh moment didn’t come for a full day after arriving to the Caribbean. Even when we first walked into our suite complete with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (who knew how wonderful it would be to have my OWN bathroom while on vacation!) and a view of the clear blue water from our roomy deck I still didn’t feel Away. Even after my early evening cocktail, I still had thoughts of pick up at school, dinner time and bedtime routines. Even after dining steps from the beach and gazing at the starlit sky, I STILL wondered if I should call to check in. I still couldn’t find the relaxed happiness I so badly needed.
But then I went for a walk, alone on the beach on day two of our trip. I walked barefoot in the silky pure white sand and splashed through the warm water. I closed my eyes against the wind and felt my hair damp from the ocean mist. After thirty minutes of walking, I stopped to look out over the vast never ending ocean and let my feet get covered with sand as each wave crashed at my ankles. I took a few deep cleansing breaths and Let Go with each exhale. And then I closed my eyes and said to myself, “It’s up to you. It’s up to YOU to find happiness in your days. You can’t count on anyone else to MAKE you happy, so find it within yourself.” And as trite and superficial and Obvious as that might sound, it just clicked for me. Everyone in my life gives me what I need. Tim is the most supportive, loving husband I could ever ask for. My kids are sweet, adoring children who I’m fortunate to have in my world. I’m the only one who stops myself from being happy. Somehow little things are able to make me unhappy. Little comments. Little mishaps. Little mistakes. Little old memories.
But little things should bring me Happy too.
And with that, “AhHa!” and “Ahhhhh…” moment, I turned back toward our resort with a new bounce in my step. And with the sun shining on my back I saw my shadow in front of me and thought, “There’s Me!”. My clear shadow walked alongside me. Four limbs. None of them were missing. Two arms both for caring for my kids and caring for myself. Two legs both for carrying the weight of the world AND the new me.
I’m back now. I read an entire novel. I drank many cocktails. I did cartwheels. I floated belly up in the ocean. I ate dessert four nights in a row. I talked with my husband over candlelight for hours. I’m Refreshed. Recharged. Renewed.
Oh, and a little tan. Because why go to the Caribbean if you’re not going to come back with something to show for it?