Monday, July 14, 2008
A Little Time Away
A few months ago I spent three days away from home on a work-related trip. I had been dreading it because I hate being away from my family and home. Even more annoying, I had to travel all the way to Los Angeles for just a few short meetings, but the time difference meant I had to get there a day early and stay an extra day. Three days away from the girls, my first trip away since CC was born. I felt pretty crummy about the whole thing.
But, it turned out to be the best thing that has happened to my parenting in a long time. I missed the girls, Patrick and home, so I thought about them a lot. But because I had a lot of time and was alone, I actually was able to reflect on them, to be thoughtful in my thinking. To evaluate, brainstorm, daydream and plan with a distance I usually never have. Even when I am planning our weeks or making lists of projects or catching up on scrapbooks or photo editing or blogging, my girls are right there. We have just been together, or are just about to be together again. It's hard to gain perspective on what's going on that way. It's hard to see the big picture and not get caught up in today's events alone.
I love living in the moment, and parenting really requires it I believe. But what I realized during this trip is how important it is to have time away from parenting in order to gain perspective on it. I'm not talking about time for myself or a break or vacation. I have already learned that I'm a better person when I make sure I do lots of things for myself and by myself. But it never occurred to me to take breaks, retreats if you will, to think about our family, my parenting, my goals and dreams and plans for this most important aspect of my life. Artist retreats. Spiritual retreats. Couples retreats. I have always had my eye on those. But a parenting retreat seemed like a contradiction until now.
During the trip I started a notebook that I am using for planning and dreaming, but also for gaining some perspective on family life and childrearing and making sure my goals and dreams are eventually met. The notebook is the first step, and next I want to incorporate a regular time or day when I take a little retreat to think about my family in ways I can only do when I have some time and space separating us.
The title of this post has double meaning of course, also referring to my two-month break from Good + Happy Day. I think I'm back, and so happy to be here!