I would be lying if I didn’t fantasize, just every once in awhile, about what my life would be like without kids or a husband. Not that I want them to disappear or am not really thankful for them, but occasionally the thought creeps into my head that I would have this magically awesome existence if I were living the kidless life or the single life.
I would have less laundry to do. Less clean up. I’d get to sleep in after staying up all night reading a good book. I’d be able to actually stay up late because I wouldn’t be as tired as I am now. I wouldn’t have to make so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I could workout whenever I wanted, and I would only eat healthy meals. I could travel more because it would be cheaper and I’d get to see friends more because there would be less mom guilt. I wouldn’t have to drive a minivan.
I know some of you are just aghast that I have these thoughts. Others are nodding in agreement. These thoughts don’t make me a bad mom or wife (I do other things that make me a bad mom or a bad wife, but these thoughts don’t even break the top twenty list), I think they probably make me pretty normal. 99.99% of the time, I’m all in with my life and very thankful for every part of it (even the poopy butts and crusty boogers on the walls) but that .01% pops up every once in awhile and I like to ride out the fantasy while 101 Kids Songs blares through the speakers of my mom ride.
So when I traveled last summer to Colorado for a writing conference, I was giddy with excitement that I was flying somewhere on my own!, spending days learning and exploring in Denver!, and taking care of no one but myself! I was going to hike mountains, sleep late, write at cozy coffee shops, and live the life I’d been daydreaming about.
Colorado was nice. I explored book stores at a leisurely pace. I ate meals unrushed and in relaxing silence. I read books in parks and hiked trails without whiny kids telling me their feet hurt five minutes into our journey. I was on my own schedule and could do whatever my little heart desired. During the day, I was surrounded by other writers and creatives who spoke my language, wanted the same things I wanted, and dreamed in words and books. I felt alive and encouraged, overflowing with ideas and inspiration.
But then day two came…and I was kinda bored. I was still loving the conference and learning good stuff, but my downtime was a little less exciting than I thought it would be.
ANOTHER MUST-READ: My trick for slowing down childhood
Each morning I went for a run before my first meeting and I wished someone was with me taking in the great views of mountains and all the cute shops I ran by (also, I wished someone was with me to tell me to keep running, that altitude change is nasty for an Indiana flat lands runner). As I drove by restaurants with my hipster-rugged rental car, I wanted my husband Chris with me to try new dishes (also, to pay attention to maps and road signs because I hate figuring out how to get somewhere). Hiking trails was challenging and exhilarating, but I just kept wanting to take pictures with my phone and send them to my family.
I missed Chris on my trip to Colorado.
I missed my kids on my trip to Colorado.
Missing them annoyed me. I wanted to be loose and wild and carefree. I wanted to be a world traveler all by myself and feel independent. I wanted to have quiet moments of reflection and wise revelations and inner peace when I returned from this lone adventure.
I didn’t want to miss my family.
But I did. I missed my kids and, especially, I missed Chris. He would have loved Colorado with its breathtaking views and majestic mountains. Exploring Red Rocks without my resident nature expert wasn’t what I dreamed it would be.
When I told him I missed him and that he would love the place I was staying, he didn’t make me feel bad about going to a place he wanted to be. I think he could sense that I was fragile and agreeing–no matter how true it was–would have broken me a little. I told him I wished he were here and, instead of saying me too, he assured me we’d get there together as a family someday and I should enjoy my time.
I needed to hear that so I could get back to finding inner peace, having wise revelations, and experiencing quiet moments of reflection.
Or something like that.
Mostly what I learned in Colorado was that this life, where I’m at right now, is exactly where I’m supposed to be. And when I get a wild hair up my butt about how I wish my life was like this or that, I lose sight of the wonder and awe that currently fills my real life. I wanted to travel like a big girl to Colorado and learn wise life lessons on a mountain then descend the peaceful mountain, learn brilliant things at a writing conference, and finally come back home with a million wonderful ideas writing and life.
What I actually came home with was humbleness and contentment.
What I actually came home with was a quiet spirit and no words yet to understand what was tumbling around inside my head.
What I came home with was a resolve to love the mundaneness of my life. To find beauty in the toys on the floor and the roll of toilet paper that somehow unrolled itself all over the bathroom and down the hall. I came home with a peace and contentment that said in a crazy world full of hurting and horrors that break your heart, this calm, boring life is more perfect than you could ever imagine.
I came home with a thankfulness for my little family that sometimes feels confining. I came home with eyes that see color and sparkle where I first saw dull black and white. I came home with a renewed heart, a change of perspective, and found beauty in the everyday.