Over the years, I have known many of my friends to take time away from their families. Mind you, this isn’t, and not meant to be, an extended break. Most of it consists of a day or a weekend; some might possibly take a week. The time spent away might be a trip required for work, to attend an educational conference, to visit extended family or friends, or even to take a trip with girlfriends. Admittedly, I have not taken much of this time. I felt my priority was with my family and for much of the last 24 years they are who I have spent time with, whether that be time at home or time away. I also realize I had the luxury to make that decision, without the pressures of a profession requiring me to take the time away from home. Thus, I am acknowledging that some of my friends might have to spend time away from home, out-of-town, because they are required to do so by their professional obligations. In other words, it might not be their choice and I am certainly not insinuating that their families are not their priority. It is, as the saying goes, “just the way it is!”
However, those obligations are not what this post is about. This post is about choosing to spend a small amount of time away from your spouse and children to recharge or reset, as I have been calling it, so that you can come home re-energized ready to be the best possible version of yourself, not only for yourself, but also for them.
Prior to last night, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken such time.
One was last spring (2017) when my sister visited the Twin Cities for a conference. I went up to spend two days with her. Her son, my nephew, got appendicitis and she rushed home by plane to be with him, thus cutting our visit a day short. This was understandable but did not quell my disappointment, or hers. Our trip through IKEA was spent in a fog as she wondered and worried about his status, and I kept a veiled concern about both of them.
Another time I took for myself was last fall, as I went home to visit my aging parents. This was time not only for me, but I time I took for both myself and them. Four days were spent in what I call “The House of Insomnia” as none of us slept. Out of politeness and being good hosts, they had rotated beds for me, each sleeping in a place they were not accustomed to, and sought relief with the pressured speech of Fox News easily spreading through the walls at 1:30 a.m.. Let’s just say, without starting a political discussion, that I do not watch Fox News and even if I did, it would not be at 1:30 in the morning! I do not regret this time I spent with my parents last fall, however. Despite the tiredness that sleeplessness brings, I will do it again. But, I do not expect to be “reset” from the time away.
I spoke at an international level gardening conference in 2015. This entailed two nights away, in another state. I drove alone through torrential rains to get to Council Bluffs, Iowa and spoke for an hour and a half to an audience about gardening with children. Time away, yes. Relaxing, and a time to “reset”? No.
My eldest son has been out of the house for five years. He lives about four hours away. A few years ago, we started planning mother-son weekends where I would travel to meet him at his school and we would attend a concert or theater event together. This time away was definitely something I have cherished as it has provided some special memories for the two of us, as did a trip with him to the Netherlands two years ago.
But, until last night, I really have not gone away with a girlfriend for any length of time. My sister – yes. My oldest son – yes. My husband – yes. I’ve also had numerous coffee dates and lunch dates with my friends over the years. But, time away, no. So when I was juried into an art gallery three hours from my home and required to be at an artist’s reception on Friday night, I jumped at the chance to take a friend with me.
My friend was pleased to be asked and gladly travelled with me to support the promotion of my hobby. We found the hotel, went to the three-hour artist reception, had a few snacks with some chilled wine, milled around and chatted with other artists, and left happy to find a place for dinner when it ended. Our day was filled with easy camaraderie and conversation. It made the trip so enjoyable to be with someone who is non-judgmental and intelligent. Both tired from our travel, the hotel stay was needed and provided a more extended chance to enjoy each other’s company. We took our time this morning, chatting over breakfast and deciding which way to head home. Even though the GPS did not route us the way we desired, the trip was fun and time passed quickly.
Again, for the second time in two weeks, I felt reset. I honestly feel like I now know the benefit of some time away from your immediate family. Even as brief as this 24 hour trip was, it was a time that was refreshing for me. I will not hesitate to do it again. A huge thank you to my friend who made the trip so enjoyable.