A friend once told me that some of her best holidays had been without her kids. I remember having a how-can-you-say-that moment and resisting the supreme urge to declare her a self-absorbed mommy.
Reading my mind, she proceeded to tell me all about her holiday, and how it had been the best thing for her relationship with her husband. "I could be myself," she said, "And not 'mommy'". Her point was that when she's with the kids she's always in 'mommy mode'. But, when she is unfettered and not chasing a child with a spoon, the 'real' her (the one that took a backseat when she became a mother) tends to resurrect itself quite magically, if only temporarily. This resurrection, she added sagaciously, is what does wonders for your relationship with your husband.
When she was done talking, I withdrew the judgement that I had pronounced in my mind. However, the verdict was now replaced with sudden and acute envy. I too wanted that holiday with my husband. Hell, I wanted this resurrection, whatever it meant!
Thus, a few months later, the husband and I took a glorious holiday. But, that's not the point of this tale. What's important is what I learned from that experience and why I think everyone who can do it, must.
I learned that I can go through a few days without losing my patience, something I didn't think possible. More importantly, my husband learned this too, and saw a side of me that he had forgotten ever existed. I wasn't the preoccupied mommy agonising over the kids' sleeping time or food rituals. I was his wife, his love, his partner who he could talk to without being interrupted. He, on the other hand, was more relaxed than I had seen him in years. We talked of things that were not even remotely connected to the family, and the strange thing was that it felt so natural—we were just a couple who were immensely enjoying each other's company (and the wine)!
I learned that after becoming parents, we tend to make our children the primary link in our relationship. But, while children are a great bond, they must not be the only bond between couples. The moment that happens, we become complacent and surrender the responsibility of our relationship to our kids—we are just 'mommy' and 'daddy'. While it's convenient to do that, a marriage requires constant work and that work cannot be outsourced. This is a basic thing that people forget: that only when you have a rock-solid, content relationship with your spouse, can the home be a happy environment for the kids. It's better, even for (or rather, especially for) the children to have a parents who are positive, and for lack of a better word, resurrected.
A happy mommy makes for a happy baby, it is said, and there's no better way of being happier than by taking a break from daily toil. When we got done with our holiday, we were ready to come home to our children. Yes, we missed them and no, it wasn't like we would carry the magic of that holiday for the rest of our lives. But we would come back happier and that positivity would get transferred to our kids.
After that holiday, I spent more quality time with the kids than I had done in years. No, it wasn't because of the guilt (ok, maybe a little), but more because I wanted to. That was the real difference—the fact that I wanted to and not that I had to.
We'd had our downtime, now it was time for the kids.