This article is part of a series in collaboration with Bonobology.
“So the kids must be excited about the vacation,” a friend commented, as I told her about my vacation plans.
“We take one vacation in a year without the children,” I responded.
“Without the children?” I wasn’t sure whether I imagined the judgement in her eyes. “I’d never do that,” she commented with a holier-than-thou attitude. I’m not sure why I felt the need to defend myself. It was completely our choice. My parents agreed to look after the children, and most importantly, the children were happy to spend a week without us at my parents’ farmhouse, where they had a contingent of staff at their beck and call, trees to climb, animals to play with and farm duties to perform.
Outnumbered by the kids
My oldest child is at that delightful age when he thinks he is the gang leader and entitled to take his own decisions, meaning decisions opposed to ours. Our second child is at that annoying age when she thinks she must do exactly what her brother decides to do. My third child (yes, we didn’t stop at two, which indicates how we never learnt our lessons) is too young to decide; however, he’s old enough to know he must follow the leader of the pack if he has any hopes of progressing in life. So we the parents are pretty much outnumbered in our home. Add to their team the grandparents who all but shove us out of the house the moment we decide we must take a vacation.
There are moments when I feel a wave of guilt, considering both of us have travelling jobs and we often leave the children in the care of my parents-in-law. We try not to be away at the same time, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Perhaps I’m the clingy one here, because I find it difficult to wean myself off the children and hate to leave them behind.
However, realising that as a couple the two of us hardly get a chance to spend time with each other, we laid the proverbial stone on our heart and forced ourselves to start taking an annual, ritualistic vacation together - just the two of us. We often choose terrains and locations that our kids wouldn’t enjoy, so the guilt isn’t that severe.
Hesitant start but great finish
During our first vacation, after the initial hesitation, we found the novelty of being together quite exciting. After years of being a family of five, we felt as though we had an arm or a leg missing, but in a while, we were like a couple again. Just the way we were before the children arrived. At first, we didn’t know what to say to each other, and our conversation meandered around our children. Soon, we got used to each other and spent long hours chatting about other things, something we had stopped doing altogether. We held hands and took long walks, indulged in late-night pillow talk, watched dirty movies and explored each other’s bodies without feeling the pressure or threat of the children knocking at our doors.
Some nights we just cuddled and some nights we had several rounds of noisy sex. We behaved like a young, horny couple and were relieved that we hadn’t forgotten how to have sex without the objective of baby making. That first vacation was helpful. We got our sex mojo back after several months (or was it years?) of dry days, because there was always a child or two languishing in our bed on most days.
Making the connection
When we came back after a week’s break, we realised that we connected even better than before. We had rekindled the spark that had dulled over the years of being just parents and not a couple. We fell in love with each other all over again.
The best feeling in these vacations is that we feel relaxed and don’t constantly worry about the children, because we know they are in safe hands. The only risk we are yet to take is to go to a place without connectivity or to a remote locale. I guess we will never ever do that because we want to always be reachable for our children even if we are on vacation. Maybe one day, when the children are old enough, we will play truant and go to a remote location, just the two of us and make them worry about us in the same way we worry about them!
As told to Ritu Kaunteya for Bonobology.
This article was first published on Bonobology.
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