So, WE’RE BACK from our honeymoon. Back to reality and back into parenthood. Before we went away, I wrote Part I, which outlined how I felt about leaving the kids for 12 days, so make sure you head over and check that out before reading this one, because this part is going to tell you how I actually went! Do you think I cried? Do you think I went away too long? Well, keep on reading and I’ll fill you in!
We woke up early to drop the kids at their Mimi & Gums (BACK STORY: Before Jaxxi was born it was determined they would be called Grammy & Grumps but Jaxxi couldn’t say those names properly, coming out as Mimi & Gum) and my stomach was in knots. I usually get anxious about going somewhere, especially when I have stick to a schedule and carry important paperwork. I feel the pressure of doing the right things so we don’t jeopardize anything! But there was definitely a lump of anxiety associated with saying goodbye to the kids and fearing I was about to inflict permanent, irreversible damage on their tiny souls. As usual, I was being dramatic and the kids were fine with us leaving. We had explained to Jaxxi in the lead up that we were going on a holiday and how she would be having a big sleepover with all of her grandparents. She understood as much as she could. I squeezed the kids goodbye, to the point Jaxxi told me I was hurting her. Oops. We got in our Uber and raced the kids down the street as they sped away with their ‘fast hands’. Once we got to Sydney, we called the kids. Jaxxi was frustrated we had interrupted her time with Mimi and was quick to wrap up the call (She blatantly hung up on us) which actually provided a lot of comfort for us!
The next day we boarded our cruise ship, explored it, did a happy dance over our ocean suite (we had miraculously been upgraded from our junior suite) and took a gazillion more pictures of the Opera House and the Bridge from our new view. We started to notice there was a lot of families on board, with many kids the same age as our own and this is when the guilt and doubt set in. Should we have brought our kids? We joked about adopting some of the cuties on board. THEN we had the Safety Briefing, which is when every single passenger must attend their allocated muster point and stand in very close, very straight lines for about 15 minutes before the briefing actually commences. It was at this point we knew we made the right decision leaving them at home! Watching the other parents trying to wrangle their restless kids (because the briefing was also scheduled at same time as witching hour) made think ‘Thank fuck that isn’t me for once!’.
Still no tears! From myself or the kids. Steve and I were finding ourselves flicking through our camera roll looking at pictures and videos of the kids, passing over our devices to ask, ‘Have you seen this one?’. We were also inserting cute phrases Jaxxi would often use into our conversations with each other. This habit lasted the entire time! At one point we found ourselves in the lift with some parents and their kids and we mentioned how we would bring our kids next time. They quickly replied with, ‘Oh, we’re thinking of leaving ours next time!’ Later that day, we called the kids and Jaxxi ran away from the phone because she had better things to do. Again, I found myself thankful for these signs of her NOT missing us.
Day 4 – 8
We started noticing how tired and worn out the parents on-board already were. And I could understand why! As mentioned in my previous post about Mum Life, when you’re on a holiday, you don’t actually get a holiday. You’re simply parenting in a different but more picturesque location. Each day would have been so much work! Getting them up, dressed, fed (bonus points if they could keep their kids still in the restaurant), sun cream on, ready for the port, snacks….the list goes on!
Although I got really excited at the chance to access Mum-Mode when I spotted a crying lost boy. He was about 8 years old and I’m pretty certain I got my elbows out as I made my way to him. HE’S MINE! I was wrapped to release my built up maternal side, as I reassured this little guy we would find his parents soon. I’m ashamed to say, but I actually got slightly territorial when a teenager came over to check in on him and offered to get him a soft drink (the parents of this young man should be proud, it was actually really sweet of him to want to help) but in the moment I was thinking ‘THIS IS MY MOMENT, GO FIND ANOTHER LOST KID!’. I guess you go a little crazy when you’ve not had the chance to do what you (like to think) you do best.
This was Easter. And this is when I lost it. We had finished with the islands and were on our journey back to Sydney, so the mood was already a little low as the trip began to wind down. Add in seeing all the kids in their bunny ears, celebrating with their parents as I received pictures of our kids doing the egg hunt surrounded by my entire family and it was inevitable. I cracked (egg pun not intentional). I didn’t let Steve see, because I didn’t want to bring him down. I also wouldn’t have handled seeing him feeling sad about the kids because I would just pile the blame on myself as it was my idea to do this trip in the first place. Our daily phone call to the kids made me feel better as Jaxxi told me all about finding the Easter bunny’s poo on the lawn. Classic.
The days after Easter were surprisingly easier. I guess it was just the event that set my feelings off. I still missed the kids but once we made it to Sydney, I felt like we were on the home stretch and reminded myself to enjoy the last days with my husband, as just the two of us. We explored Sydney (ON FOOT) and walked 16km the day we got off the ship! We CERTAINLY wouldn’t manage that with kids! I reckon once you have kids, you’re acquire a skill of being ridiculously efficient during those kid-free times. Somehow we walked from China Town, across Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the Prime Ministers house, back across the bridge, over to Darling Harbour, explored the aquarium and wild life zoo, then back to our hotel in China Town. After a swim we walked to Darling Square for dinner. Once we were back at our hotel, we felt like a late night milkshake, so off we went again. LUXURY!
The kids were still dealing with our absence amazingly well! I hope the letters, little gifts of encouragement and calendar I made before I left really helped with this.
HOME TIME…kind of
Our shuttle to the airport wasn’t leaving until 5pm, so after a swim at Bondi (and contemplating if I should pretend to need assistance in the hope of meeting a Bondi Rescue lifeguard) and a decent shop around Bondi Junction, we squeezed in some more city exploring and were finally happy with all we achieved during our kid-free time. We were ready to fly home to our babies! However, after one hour in the air, the universe had different plans which would delay seeing our kids and also reignite our fears of flying we thought we had gotten over. The plane’s main hydraulic system had lost all pressure and we had already turned around to head back to Sydney for an emergency landing. What the captain explained after we had ‘safely’ touched down and sped past the flashing lights of multiple fire trucks, was that a failed hydraulic system meant NO STEERING, so we landed purely using the breaks to keep us straight. As I held Steve’s hand (or he held mine, because let’s be honest we’re as bad as each other) I was wondering why it took so long to slow down as I remembered there was water at the end of the Sydney runway! After a very long and slow tow, we finally made it back to the terminal and swapped planes. Apparently the no-fly curfew had been especially extended for us by Canberra officials, getting our wheels up with only 14 seconds to spare! During the plane swapover, I called Steve’s Mum to let her know which meant a quick rearrange of plans. The kids were going to be put to bed at our house originally, but they had to stay at their Mimi’s house since we wouldn’t be home until the early hours of the morning. For the first time since being away, Jaxxi had a meltdown and I felt terrible making her wait! It felt like a whole day was being added on before we could see them again!
Finally, at 3am, we walked through our front door, smiled at all the welcome home posters, pictures and streamers in our living room, face planted our pillows and went to sleep. However, that sleep was only 3 hours worth because we had to pick the kids up before Steve’s Mum left for work! So, this proves you NEVER get a smooth transition into parenthood.
As expected, the kids were stoked to see us! We were so proud of how well behaved they had been! I honestly expected tantrums, sleepless nights and plenty of acting out near the end of our trip, but they stayed golden. They even stayed pretty good for us too, which eased the sleep deprivation!
My trip with my husband was amazing! I will forever cherish the precious chunk of time we spent together, sightseeing, laughing, talking and enjoying our adventure. But, we will never go away that long without them again. Not because they missed us, but because we missed them. I can safely say my worst fears of damaging my kids was never ever close to being met! It was the adults who took a toll. However, I will say the duration of the trip was great in the way of strengthening my appreciation and gratitude for motherhood and the opportunity life has given me to be a Mum.