Insight about time away at ALT

ALT letters

Alt Summit SLC 2012~ Gabrielle Blair
photo by Justin Hackworth Photo

Still recovering from my recent trip to Salt Lake City Utah where I got to attend ALT Summit. I had 5 very busy crammed packed days away from home. I confess I’m a little exhausted, but so excited to see my little weasels again! By day 3 at the conference I could hardly talk about them with out feeling emotional. These feelings are so wonderful to have! I am so grateful for the opportunity to get away from home alone- today I want to share a quick thought about being away from my family. I think toooo often a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t leave. I am sure I have not spent 10 nights away from my kids in the last 3 years- and maybe another hand count in the last eight. Maybe that’s a lot to some of you moms out there? I suspect many of the moms that have to juggle career demands wish they had the luxury of being home with there children more often. My reasons for not spending time away from the children are mostly guilt and responsibility based, although the lack of opportunity and support systems also play a huge role.

I recognize my role in our family is to be the primary care taker of our children. My husband travels 5 days a week and has always had a demanding career, because of this he is often undependable when it comes to being home by a certain time to relieve me and allow for me to get some time away. In addition, we have such a very little bit of time together as a couple and as a family I feel our time should be spent together. There are always too many things that need to get crammed into those 48 hours that I feel like we need to be tackling it as a team. I have not always handled the constant travel gracefully, and my negative feelings of jealousy, resentment, abandonment, distrust take a toll on our relationship. Those few days on the weekend are simply not long enough to repair and compensate for the 5 days he is gone. I digress… point is that even though we rarely use Saturday night as a date night, I think it would really help our relationship if we did, and spending that time together is important. So I never leave. I feel guilty for wanting alone time. I feel like my longing to get away suggest inadequacies in mothering. I also think years of infertility plays a role in my feelings of guilt. I spent so many years longing to become a mother, that if feels ungrateful to want to not-be a mother for a little while. Also I think role modeling is a factor. For what ever reasons, I can not remember my mother EVER being gone- EVER! It may have happened MAYBE, but If she ever did get away when I was a child, I don’t remember it and it must have been extremely rare. Maybe her reasons why are foder for another post but I think it taught me that a stay at home mom stays-at-home (with the family). When I think about her dedication it makes me feel guilty, less dedicated, and sad for her that she never got to have experiences like my weekend away just provided me.

I don’t want to get all negative so I’ll try to keep the lack of support brief, but its worth starting a conversation about because I would love to hear your story and find out if you feel the same way or if you have discovered a solution. My husband never volunteers to stay with kids while I get away, in fairness I rarely ask. He doesn’t say no but he loves to use uncommitted words like, “perhaps” or “I’ll try”. And because his job has, on more-than-one occasion, “cancelled” a family trip, I really just expect him not to be around ( yeah, I realize that i might have some issues in this department! ) Probably because of the constant feelings of being the only parent and having  (imaginary or not) feelings of sole responsibility, I sometimes want to “run away from home”. this leaves me with 2 solutions as I can see-1. Either you have resources to hire alternative child care or 2. you have to have close trustworthy friends and family who will keep them. I don’t. I wish I had a cultural solution to this problem. I am sure I am not alone.

My parents aren’t the babysitting kind of grandparents. Spartacus parents are not an option. My sister lives on the other side of the country, and my brothers are either not to that point in life (still bachelor) or they live too far way, or they have too many of their own children for me to comfortably ask them to take on 2 more. I do hire babysitters pretty regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) for things like book club or girls night. It is expensive and I worry about my children. So I haven’t figured out the solution to the support and resources problem?! I do know that sounds like a wonderful idea to spend a night (or so!!!) away from my kids again for time to just work on my marriage ! I also know that it’s extremely difficult to trust anyone with my kids. And I know that it’s expensive when I do.
What I do know:
1. Being away from my family gave me the time and space to miss them and WANT to come home. It was really healthy.
2. I want to go away by myself at least once a year.
Do you have guilt issues about leaving your kids? Do you wish there was a solution to childcare for long weekends away? Is it difficult to find someone to keep them for a few days that is responsible, trustworthy and affordable? What is affordable? Do you have a similar experience where you were gone long enough to miss your family? Do you have advice for me?

9 thoughts on “Insight about time away at ALT

  1. Hi Hollee! I can relate to feeling guilty for going to Alt and for leaving my almost 10-month old daughter for five days. (I’d done it before, but with my husband, so taking a trip just for me, seemed incredibly selfish.) Once I realized they were supporting me and wanted me to have this opportunity, it actually pushed me to really take advantage of Alt. I did a lot of things outside my comfort zone, joining a group of fellow Alt attendees who I hadn’t met yet (and “knew” one only from her blog) for drinks on Sunday night instead of going to sleep before an early Sunday morning flight. At the airport on Sunday, I couldn’t wait to get through security and was so incredibly happy to be going home to them. It was great getting to see and hold them both.

    I wish I had advice on childcare that is of help. I’m incredibly lucky that we live near my parents and that my mom who was a SAHM realizes the importance of parents having time away from their kids to work on their relationship. Before our daughter’s four month birthday, my parents took her for the Fourth of July weekend. And, boy was I thankful! It was incredible getting to just be me. (After being pregnant for nine months and no one, not even strangers, carrying about me only about my baby, I felt invisible.) Are there any other parents with children of similar ages that you trust that you’d be willing to trade off taking their kids for taking yours? A few of my friends have started doing that — a night at first and then a full weekend (Friday/Saturday) every month (they have a group of four parents and everyone gets a weekend off).

    Good luck!

    • So wonderful to get your comment. Its nice just to know someone can relate! I think one of my big issues- which I didn’t really go into in the post is the trust thing. Even with friends I am worried and skeptical that my children will be in the safest environment, you never REALLY know people. Anyway I have never experienced any molestation in my own family but I think I am a little phobic about the idea that while I am away living-it-up my kids would get abused I would not be able to live with myself. I also feel bad for the stress I add to a friend or family member when I leave my kids with them. We are embarking on an international relocation in the next 6 weeks and I think some of my anxioty regarding this spills over into every other area of my life. I will be working on building a support system right away and am good at getting involved, volunteering and being social. I know it will critical to long term happiness to have those social networks; I am big on community, but clearly I have built a tall wall when it comes for a. asking for help when it is not absolutely nessasary- like for a recreational weekend away with my husband b. completely trusting my kids to others.
      On the other hand, I also did a lot of things at Alt that were new for me and outside of my comfort zone, and I am better for it. I know that I will look back and be able to attribute some really positive growth to that point in time and I also know that my family will benifit from it too. I know that I need to just release some of the mom guilt that I carry around! THanks again from you comment – especially on a post that is not normal for me- but I love the internet for that opportunity to ask the “universe” and have answers come back in the INBOX.!!! Sometimes its like free therapy. THANKS!

  2. You’re welcome! I really enjoyed meeting you at Alt. The postcard you gave to first time attendees was fantastic. Good luck with your relocation; I look forward to following your adventures here.

  3. Hey girlie! Sorry I am just now catching up on blog reading and emailing (I am SO sorry for still not replying…life got chaotic!!) and I just have to say you DO NOT have issues at all!! Before I got sick the mr. traveled each week…before we moved to Dallas he was there weekly for his project then would return to Denver and play catch up on all of the other projects. I remember feeling quite jealous of his alone time in his hotel room or even on the airplane!! followed by guilt for wanting some alone time. How well I can relate to this post…I remember it like it was yesterday! We were in the same boat…our babysitter was $15/hour and I didn’t have friends or family I could count on. I can’t offer advice…b/c I don’t have the answers…I am just here to say you are not alone…you can totally vent to me! I have been there! I hope packing is going well.

    • Oh Sarah,
      It’s so nice to hear from you, and especially to comment on THIS post. It was one I am truly in need of advice from the entire universe! We are now (STILL) awaiting our swiss visas and living in a hotel at the moment. I keep imagining that very soon I will have time to devote to all the projects (20min project) I want to do. VERY SOON I keep telling myself! And on another note, I read and read your blog and cried a little. I wish you would move next door to me and let me know you better in real life~ You are a KEEPER!

      • Ooh Hollee, you are simply the sweetest! first of all…What?! Living in a hotel…well, I suppose it might be nice to have your rooms cleaned and continental breakfast for awhile! How much longer must you wait for those visas?!
        I would LOVE to be next door neighbors! How fun would that be?! Well, I suppose I will have to settle for visiting you in Switzerland someday soon ;0) we’ll get to that 20 minute project someday when our lives slow down!! Xoxo

    • Clair I love you blog, cried my eyes out about your friends who lost the baby. I wish I could wisk you away to switzerland with us!!!! Your sweet baby girl looks so cute- and well cared for. MISS YOU TONS!

  4. I have not had too much experience with leaving the kids to do something for myself. When we leave the kids on a couples’ getaway though, we have found a college girls to be the best (although not perfect) solution.

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