The Weekend That Made Survival Mode More Survivable

The weight of mom guilt can be overpowering, but taking a much needed break for yourself isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

My twins were 16 months old and my oldest daughter three when I had one of the best weekends ever. As a full-time stay-at-home mom, I’d been in pure survival mode for the past few years. Survival mode meant that I needed to keep the children alive, keep myself alive, and anything else just didn’t happen.

The house was a disaster, I only showered when absolutely necessary, and sleeping more than five hours straight was a fantasy. I mean, I actually fantasized about it. Life with my three little daughters was crazy. In the midst of the craziness, I had completely forgotten my former life as a regular person. I put my head down and just got through the day. Hour by hour at times.

Meanwhile, my husband was also having a busy year in a vastly different way. He’d been away for two bachelor party weekend trips and two guys’ ski getaways. He even used a few of his paid vacation days to go skiing and hunting – on weekdays. The idea of taking an entire day to go and do something fun baffled me.

I’ll admit I was extremely jealous and wanted to consult my stay-at-home mom employee handbook to see how many paid vacation days I got every year. Maybe I was bitter. Or maybe I was just exhausted. Either way, I spent many day dreams thinking about what I would do with an entire eight hours off.

My husband is a great guy. He’s very hands on and helps out a lot. He also wants to see me happy. I started telling him about my fantasies. I might have complained a little about his weekends away and days off. Sometimes I joked about them, sometimes not. He encouraged me to plan a girls’ trip and was game for a full weekend of kid duty.

I love my girlfriends, but the idea of planning a weekend for all of us, talking for hours, and consulting everyone on what they wanted to do just made me feel even more tired. After he’d brought it up a few times, I finally told him the truth.

What I really wanted was a weekend alone. By myself, with no one to talk to, empathize with, or plan around. No one asking my opinion, sharing a room with me, or even looking at me. He thought I was crazy.

I went for it and picked a weekend. My weekend. My husband was on board (with Grandma on stand-by) and I booked myself a two-night stay at a hotel 10 miles away from our house. As my weekend got closer, the guilt set in – classic mom guilt that told me there was no way the girls could go 48 hours without me.

I sheepishly mentioned my plans to a few mom friends and got the feeling that it did sound a little crazy. They all sort of half-laughed (this wasn’t a joke) and looked at me like they wanted to support this idea but thought I was insane. I pushed it all away and focused on how amazing it was going to be. This was happening.

I enjoyed every single second of packing my own suitcase. Just my suitcase. No one else’s. It took me about three minutes. The drive to the hotel took 15 minutes. I walked in with an air of someone important. I decided to pretend I was on some super serious business trip.

I checked in, and the person behind the counter asked me if I’d traveled far. “No, not too far!” I smiled and acted like checking into a hotel, alone, on a Friday night was something totally typical for me. I walked to my room, opened the door, and sat down.

Now what? This was the strangest feeling I’d had in months, maybe years. I could literally do whatever I wanted. Anything at all. The world was an open book. I sat in the silence and just took it all in.

The silence felt so good.

I decided to order room service. I found a chick flick on TV. I put on my PJs. When the meal came, I ate it slowly until I was completely full. I watched another movie. I fell asleep at 9pm and slept for 12 hours straight. This felt more amazing than any fantasy I’d had.

I felt slightly weird when I woke up. It was so quiet. I had the entire day ahead of me to do with as I wanted. This was an astounding thought.

I took advantage of the hotel spa and booked a massage. I took the longest shower I’d probably ever had. I sat outside on a lounge chair in the sunshine reading. For hours. I ate more food. I took a nap. I didn’t speak more than about 15 words out loud the entire day. Then I slept some more. I texted home a few times, but didn’t call. Everyone there was good, so I let them be. It was incredible, all of it.

On Sunday I woke up exhilarated. Another long shower and meal was followed by a much needed trip to Victoria’s Secret for a bra that actually fit. I spent time getting measured and talking to the salesgirl about all of my adventures in nursing twins. Finding a bra that actually fit was a true joy.

I felt fulfilled. I felt lighter. I felt rested. I was ready to hug my babies, soak up their smells, and delight in their little voices. I was ready to go home and smile at my husband and perhaps even show him my new bra. This mom was refreshed, renewed, reawakened.

I still fantasize about doing it again one day, but I don’t need it as much as I did in that moment. My children needed it, and my husband needed it, too.

Every mother should take a weekend, or even just one full day alone. Put the mom guilt aside and enjoy every second of it. Those seconds aren’t wasted. They are truly necessary, for everyone’s survival.