A couple of months ago, my husband and I were able to take a four-night getaway as a delayed anniversary celebration. In an unexpected stroke of luck, my sister and her husband were able to join us at the last minute. It was the first time they had the chance to get away for more than one night in years.
Surrounding the actual departing, we all went through stages somewhat resembling the stages of grief. Denial that this was actual happening. Guilt over leaving our kids for that many days. And once we got there, anger that we hadn’t done it sooner.
My sister and her husband, Jake, got there the day after we did, and once they found us on the beach and we exchanged hugs and giddiness, she looked at me in all seriousness sharing, “Almost as soon as we landed I turned to Jake and said, I already like you more.”
I laughed. But I could totally relate.
Getting away is hard. My sister and I and our husbands work. And we have young kids. The planning required to escape is no joke. And in the back of our minds we know not simply is the leaving hard, sometimes the coming back is harder. Re-entry into reality is not for the faint of heart. We may get a four-night respite from sippy cups, diapers, and bedtime routines, but returning home is intense. We meet needy kids and piles of laundry to be done, grocery shopping to be knocked out and for me personally, the depressing reality that the getaway long anticipated and planned is over.
But there’s a reason we keep going. Whether it’s for four nights to a tropical destination or one night at a hotel an hour away. Because in a matter of minutes away, I find myself saying the same thing my sister said. “I already like you more.”
When we spend so much time in the thick of parenting, our gazes quickly, easily, and rightly—to a degree—turn outward to our kids, to the little ones who need and deserve our attention. But when we stay there too long we forget what about the other one keeps us in it with them. We forget what got us there in the first place.
It’s hard to make the time. And everyday life can feel harder after having experienced a break. But it’s worth it because it brings to mind a reality that still exists, but sometimes slips beneath the surface under responsibility, routine, and exhaustion. And sometimes we need to get away to remember. To turn our gaze back towards each other, and find ourselves letting out a big sigh of relief when we do.
Because we really do still like each other. A lot. We were in this together first, and taking time away with each other is what we do to keep communicating, You’re still first. You’ll stay first. And I love you, but I also like you.