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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Our First Vacation Without the Girls

It was a big deal for me.

You must understand, not only have I never been on vacation without them, I've never even spent the night away from them (except the 2 nights I was away from Ann Catherine when I gave birth to Lily in the hospital.)

I have never wanted to go on a trip and leave my children. Since the girls were born, Chris has been on several business trips and I've often told him, "I don't know how you do it." And while he does miss them, it's not a big deal to leave them.

It's a dad thing. It doesn't mean I love our girls anymore than Chris. It's just that men are wired differently. They love their children, but they don't have an inherent need to be with them.

Moms do. Our kids are literally with us from the moment they are conceived. If you are blessed to carry children, you know that incredible feeling that for nine months that person is always with you. Every minute of every day. So it's only natural that once they are here, we don't like to be without them.

Chris knew we needed a vacation, just the two of us. We hadn't been away together since 2004, just before we got pregnant with Ann Catherine and Melissa. But he also knew that I would have a hard time leaving the kids. Such a hard time, that he waited until the week before we left to even tell me he was taking me on a vacation. And, of course, my first question? "What about the girls?" "Your parents are keeping them," he answered. "They'll be fine."

I must admit, I wasn't really crazy about leaving them. Because Chris had already booked the trip, I couldn't really back out. And I did look forward to going to South Beach in Miami and relaxing, but the mother in me felt like a terrible person for leaving them.

The days leading up to the trip, I tried to soak up every single minute with them - and I bet I told them I loved them a thousand times.

My mom kept saying, "Amy, they'll be fine." I said, "I know. I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to miss them so much."

It was tough saying goodbye to them. But I must admit, the minute our plane touched down in Miami I realized how badly I needed this.

Chris and I didn't have to set our alarm and be up by a certain time. I can't tell you how wonderful that was. Our mornings start at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and we get to "sleep in" until 6 or 6:30 a.m. on the weekends. And at night we didn't have to go through the bedtime ritual of baths, bottles and such.

We did what we wanted, when we wanted. You know, like we did before we had kids.

One of the best parts was seeing one of my best friends, Shannon, and her husband Joe. (That's us in the pictures above. We stopped at an outdoor cafe on South Beach and had coffee after dinner.) Shannon and I lived together in Panama City during our first TV job at WMBB. She's now an anchor in West Palm Beach. Shannon is one of those friends that I can go a year without even speaking to, but when we do finally reconnect, it's like we were never apart. We just pick up right where we left off. Those are the best kinds of friends.

Chris and I also needed some time with each other without the girls. When you have kids, you become so focused on them that sometimes you forget the person who was there all along. It's like our pastor says, your spouse was there before the kids got there and he/she will still be there long after they've flown the coop. So true.

I'm telling you this to give you moms a message. It's OKAY to go away with your husband - without the kids - from time to time. I never thought I could leave my kids, but I did. And I'm glad I did. Mommy needed some rest and rejuvenation. Mommies spend so much time taking care of everyone else - but who takes care of mommy?

Now don't get me wrong. Chris and I found ourselves talking about the girls all the time. We would think of something funny that Ann Catherine does or something sweet that Lily does. And as great as the four days in South Beach were, I was ready to see the kids today.

When the pilot said we were about to land in Huntsville, Chris and I both had a smile on our face a mile wide. We were basically sprinting off the plane to see the girls. Seeing those sweet girls waiting for us at the airport was one of the best moments I've ever had.

I came back from this trip rested and relaxed. Every mom needs a break now and then.

Take it from me. It doesn't make you a bad mom. In fact, it might just make you a better one.

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