I found my Happy

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?

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “I found my Happy

  1. Good for you! I’ll be finding my “happy” next month on a trip to Mexico with my hubby. Can’t wait. More parents should do this and not feel guilty about it – it’s an investment in your marriage. Welcome home.
    ~Parent Pill

  2. Letting go is a major, major feat, even without children. So glad that you found your Happy! Love that cartwheel shot. I used to be able to do those but have flipped one too many times in a direction my back didn’t appreciate …

  3. Welcome back! I’m so jealous. I need to get away to experience all that. To feel refreshed. To get a break.

  4. What a wonderful vacation! Yeah for you!

    Great photo of your handstand too!

  5. Oooh, Becca. I think my blood pressure dropped just reading about your trip. What a wonderful escape. I’m so glad it was such a success – what you wanted and what you needed. And welcome home.

  6. It sounds heavenly! For the record, it always takes me a full day to “gear down” also. I’m so glad you were able to do so! And glad to have you back!

  7. It sounded marvelous! What an amazing and much needed break from the everyday responsibilities!

    Glad you are back. I’ve missed you. : )

  8. This so important, and so hard to do – to get away when kids are little, to have together time and time for yourself. Even now, if I get a short break there’s a day or two before I “de-mom” and my kids are teens. But those days to oneself are enormously beneficial.

    And cartwheels and cocktails! Fabulous!

  9. So very, very happy for you. I felt it, the unravelling as I read your piece. I’m so glad you found what you were hoping for. Here’s to holding on to it and moving forward. Remember this moment and it will keep you doing what you have to do.

  10. So happy you found your happy! So happy to have you back!

    Just so you know, it also takes me about 24 hours to let go of the kids when we are away…and when we return, we are ready to be with them again…happy to be around them.

    Plannng our next happy trip…can’t wait!

  11. This sounds so great. My husband and I have a vacation planned at the end of May and it’s not coming soon enough! I really relate to your feeling of not being able to disconnect. No one warns you that when you have kids, you’ll feel your heart always living outside of your body (as I think the quote goes). Being a mother never ever stops, even when you’re miles and miles away. That can be good and bad, but it has made my life so much richer.

  12. I sighed out loud a few times reading this, and my husband is giving me funny looks now 🙂

    This sounds absolutely amazing. We’ve only ever left them once, for two nights, and it wasn’t long enough to rid the nervous jitters. Next time it’ll be longer… though we haven’t planned it yet…

    I’m SO very happy for you that you had that time, with you, and with your husband 🙂 Welcome back!

  13. Well, you already know that I’m corny, so I’m not afraid to admit that I have tears in my eyes reading about your trip. I am so happy for you & so glad you had the chance to take this trip after all the stress of the previous week. I am also so grateful for the reminder of the importance of taking time for ourselves and for our relationships.

    Welcome home, Becca!

  14. Liz

    Oh Becca, I love, love, love this post. I have goosebumps and a smile on my face.
    You know that Hubby and i are fortunate enough to be able to take time away together often (well, often for most parents, but not nearly as often as we’d like). It ALWAYS takes me like a day to (almost) let go. When I do, oh, it’s glorious.
    One of the big battles we have when we do go away is that I stress: “Should I call or not?” If I call, and I’m told the kids are fine, I stress about whether or not they’re being honest. If I call, and I’m told there’s a problem, I stress about the problem. When I don’t call, I stress about how things are going. When I call, I stress about feeling bound to the kids again…like the spell is broken.
    I am such a believer in the need for these getaways. I look forward to them like nothing else in life. And yet, when I’m gone, I struggle to feel truly “free.”
    You asked: Does a mom ever feel truly ‘away’?
    Funny because my sister had 2 kids way before I did. She used to tell me: Enjoy your trips before kids, b/c after, you will never feel the same way again. And I used to SCOFF. “HA! That will not be me! I will leave and not miss them. I will leave and not worry.” Yeah, then I had kids. Then I realized, that is impossible. So no, I think even those of us who can go away without the kids and not feel guilty, who know that we leave them in very good hands, who know that we deserve and need this, still are never truly “away.”
    But heck…I am already planning my summer getaway to the Keys with Hubby anyway!
    SO GLAD you had a wonderful time. To me, there is nothing like some sand and sun to bring you happiness.

  15. It’s so hard to get away. Impossible almost. Almost. Imperative really.

    You realize how stressed you are by the long days it takes to de-stress.

    I wish I had gone away more when my kids were little. I only left them once. My husband and I went to Tahiti. We had the best time and I couldn’t wait to get back to them. Ying and Yang.

    Now I never want them to leave.

  16. I am so happy for you. And for me, as a reader. I am happy to know this is even possible. It makes me feel very strange inside to know this might actually happen to me one day….seems impossible.

    But I think I might believe you….thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

  17. Dessert four nights in a row. Yum! (Your whole trip sounds delicious, especially the time-alone-with-your-thoughts beach walk.) Thanks for letting me feel like I was on vacation, too, for a few minutes anyway. =>

    Welcome back!

  18. will you adopt me and take me on vacation???

    Left an award for you at my blog today. Come on by and pick it up. 🙂

    Alex aka Ma What’s For Dinner
    http://www.mawhats4dinner.com

  19. You’ve got to tattoo that on your ass, and frame that cartwheel photo so it’s the first thing you see every day.

    🙂

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