A couple weeks ago, I asked for help preparing for a parenting milestone: my first trip without my baby. And the CoJ community delivered! You reminded me that it was normal to feel both excited and terrified, and like everyone predicted, both Ella and I were 100% fine during our time apart. During any homesick periods, nine things helped me stay present and enjoy my time away…
1) To prepare our hearts for three days apart, I decided to make Ella’s and my last day together extra fun. So, we dressed in coordinating outfits, ate Philly cheesesteaks for dinner at the farmers’ market with Max, and stayed up late watching Bluey. It was pure bliss.
2) The next morning, I had one goal: execute a quick and painless goodbye. The thought of her crying while I peeled out of the driveway hurt my stomach. So I made our goodbye similar to when I leave for the grocery store. Just a couple smooches on the face, a cheek pinch and a warm ‘I love you.’ But I did insist on carrying her from the house to the car, instead of saying bye on the doorstep. Holding her for those few extra steps was the gentle send off I needed.
3) I kid you not when I say that this Cup of Jo comment section was my personal talisman against mom guilt. Anytime I started thinking, “Should I even be here right now?”, “Am I a bad mom?”, “I should FaceTime…”, I’d whip out my phone and read all of the wisdom you lovely humans left. After a couple minutes, my worries would die down and I’d remember that I deserve to have parenting breaks and it’s good to have fun without my child!
4) “I don’t have to share this popcorn with anybody!” was one of the first of many thoughts I had during my trip when I realized I was free to do whatever I wanted. I could stay up until 2 a.m. without worrying about waking up four hours later to take care of a baby. I could wait in lines for popular rides without fear of dealing with a meltdown. Shoot, I could even RIDE all the popular rides. And I could say all the jokes I wanted without making any words or stories ‘kid-friendly.’ Ecstasy!
5) There were four other moms on the trip, which was a game changer. I turned to them when I needed to talk about baby things, because that’s what they wanted to talk about, too. On the plane ride, I sat next to my pregnant friend, Kayla, and another mom, Silvia. For the entire flight, we shared baby gear, birth stories and milestones. Those conversations grounded me.
6) There was one piece of advice that everybody agreed on: No FaceTime! So, instead of video calls, my husband Max and my mother-in-law texted me daily Ella updates. Each morning, I’d wake up to a text sharing how she slept and her itinerary for the day. Every night I’d receive a flood of videos and photos, which always boosted my serotonin levels.
7) Guilt is ridiculous. Because — get this — when I finally stopped feeling mom-guilt, I felt guilty about feeling guilty in the first place. I know. So, when that happened, I turned to another piece of advice from the comment section; “Let yourself feel ALL the feels.” Every time I’d feel bad about feeling bad at my bff’s bachelorette party, I’d offer myself grace. I’d remember that what I was feeling was natural; I’m a human and my feelings are valid.
8) When I was a little girl, I’d feel excited and special when my grandpa returned home from business trips with a small souvenir for me. I wanted to recreate that experience with Ella, so I scouted out the park for the perfect gift. At the end of the day, my friend Kayla tipped me off to this baby Moana set. Ella loves the movie, and I even think she looks like baby Moana. It was meant to be.
9) One of the best moments of the trip was running into my CoJ guardian angel. On the first morning, I’m at the airport, waiting for my friends to arrive. I take a selfie in the bathroom, then sit down at the gate to eat a bagel. All of a sudden, I hear a woman’s voice: “Hi! Are you Jannelle from Cup of Jo?” I look up to see a kind face. “I read your post about leaving Ella, and I want you to know that she is going to be okay,” she tells me. “She’s going to have a great time, and you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your trip, you deserve this!” After that encounter, I knew everything was going to be fine.
Thoughts? What was your first trip after kids like?
P.S. A snapshot of parenting, and would you ever take a vacation from motherhood?