So, here’s how it went down.
When I last checked in, the boys were doing cannonballs into the hot tub and rescuing each other with the never-on-duty lifeguard’s preserver. That continued until Tuck got so tangled in the rope that the life preserver seemed to threaten the very opposite.
We transitioned to dinner, and we chose a nearby pizza joint.
Side note: I think one of the inherent and recurring “most difficult things” about parenting alone is the incessant task of making dinner conversation. When it’s just the boys and me at the dinner table, it’s constant teaching of manners, questions and answers, courtesy dialogue. And you may not realize how much respite there is in having someone across the table, an adult who has mastered How Was Your Day Conversation, to carry the load. I have my standard questions (“Tell me the best/worst thing about your day,” “What is your favorite _____?” and “Tell me a word that rhymes with _______,”) and then I’m pretty maxxed out with the daily responsibility of teaching this skill. So I feel guilty, I blow kisses to their future spouses and pray the boys will somehow learn how to pursue a woman’s emotions at the dinner table, I revert up letting them talk about poop and boogers, and sometimes resort to electronics to entertain us all.
On our getaway night, as we ate greasy pizza under a neon light, while they played iPod games and I read a book, the whole scene depleted in my mind. It was suddenly sad and lonely and pathetic and not at all fun.
The hotel scene didn’t improve my outlook when we got back after dinner. It was ever-so-appallingly only 7:15, the boys were spread out on the pullout couch, watching Thomas The Train and Angelina Ballerina, and I was one-part charmed that these benign options still interest them and one-part annoyed with the Cartoon Network for acting like anything animated is appropriate for children.
I was in a big bed by myself, which is oddly better than being sandwiched between my sons, the two creeping crawlers with a dozen knees and elbows, and that’s when it occurred to me: on the weekend of my dead husband’s birthday, no amount of adventure can outrun lonely.
I would have packed us up and gone home – and believe you me, I wanted to – but the boys were ensnared with the pullout couch and the Sprout Good Night Show, and I couldn’t let myself become the mom who breaks a promise.
Instead of bailing, I called for reinforcements. And companionship. And snacks.
Mom, this is not fun. Could you come? Please bring fun. And snacks.
And that’s when I was deeply thankful we chose a hotel 15 minutes from home for this ridiculous adventure.
Within an hour, my mom appeared with all her pixie dust and optimism and conversation and friendship.
She brought PopTarts, white cheddar cheezits, m&m’s, chocolate muffins, bottled water, Pringles, Mounds, and diet Pepsi.
She saved the night. Suddenly, we were a veritable slumber party.
What did I learn?
Priceline is sometimes golden and sometimes stained copper.
No amount of planning and running and going can quiet the whispering threats of old memories on the calendar.
An adventure with my kids can still feel like a challenge of my own.
Everything’s better when you bring a friend along.
Never underestimate the importance of late night snacks in a hotel room.
At the end of it all, one of the boys said, “This was the best weekend ever. Because Mommy went to the bathroom once with the door open.”
Really? That was the highlight? Honestly.
We could have done that at home.
Anyway, we did it. And I’m sleeping at home tonight.