As you may recall, I just skipped town for a weekend alone with the husband. I am quite certain that you have all been dying to know mildly curious and/or disinterested to hear the details of our Valentine’s getaway (No, not those details. This is a family show. Oh, wait, there are too many bad words for that…) so I thought I’d share some of the highlights of our three days in Estes Park, along with a poignant honest account of what it was like to return home to our two children.

In my most memorable Valentine’s Day post, I referred to the last child-free weekend trip we took to Estes Park. Like a complete moron, I talked about how sick and unhappy I was that weekend, thanks to my first-trimester morning sickness and general malaise, and how this trip would be so much better because I would feel great and eat and drink as much as I wanted!

You should never say something like this before going out of town.

I don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law, bitter irony, poetic justice, or a karmic kick in the ass, but basically one should never say these things out loud or in print before going on a vacation. While you may not get morning sickness, you will most definitely get sick. 

I wound up with an ear infection the day before we left. (What kind of adult gets an ear infection? One who can’t stop running her mouth off about how excited she is about her trip, that’s who.) I saw the doctor and he thought there was a pretty good chance my eardrum would rupture on our way up to Estes Park. Fucking. Great.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

The good news is, it didn’t. The bad news is, I still can’t hear anything out of my left ear, save for the constant ringing, and I spent my weekend downing countless pills to combat the pain, dizziness, and pressure: Ibuprofen, Sudafed, antibiotics, probiotics, (because the last thing I needed that weekend was a damn yeast infection from my antibiotics) not to mention my usual acid reflux pills and antihistamine. Between those, my husband’s cholesterol medication, and the supply of Vicodin I brought just in case my eardrum exploded, we had more pharmaceuticals on hand than the cast of Betty White’s Off Their Rockers. (See, I told you I’d work it in Kristi.)

The unfortunate cocktail of drugs served to ensure that my digestive system ground to a screeching halt, further contributing to my misery and inability to indulge excessively in culinary delights. One night I didn’t even finish my Creme Brulee. (Hanging head in shame. What a waste.) Although the first night I did get a little tipsy off my single glass of wine and after-dinner drink! (The Grasshopper. A classic.)

I was reminded that the bitter irony of allowing oneself excitement over a vacation that ends up falling short could have been much worse. While we lay in bed watching CNN the first night, (Try not to be jealous of our crazy lifestyle.) we saw footage of the people stuck on the cruise ship Triumph. My favorite captions included descriptions such as:

  • Befouled ship 
  • Floating petrie dish
  • Hell on high waters
  • Crippled cruise ship limps to port

So, yeah, it could’ve been worse. Actually, it was mostly lovely, thanks to our lazy agenda, lack of parental responsibilities, and ability to stay in bed all morning. We watched several movies, got massages, went shopping, and I read an entire novel. Wheeee! So, for all my dramatic belly-aching, it was a pretty nice weekend.

Coming home was pretty great, too, given that we got to see our daughters after three days apart. Until they both started screaming and I was certain my eardrum would explode for real this time. Within a matter of hours, heads were banged on file cabinets, lives were ruined by unfair parental limits being set, pants were pooped in, and injustices were dispensed. Home sweet home.

The next day, I witnessed a beautiful scene between sisters, especially in light of the post I had just written about my oldest daughter wanting space from her little sister. My toddler was angrily screeching when her big sister refused to hand over her Junie B. Jones book. I reminded Izzy that she was not obligated to share her chapter books with Sophie- they were hers. Izzy generously found another book to give her sister, and the two of them happily settled down in a corner of the dining room to read their books, side by side. It turns out that all Sophie wanted was a big-girl book of her own, so she could sit down and read next to the sister she worships.

Then they shared this sweet, sloppy toddler kiss.

Look at that puckered mouth!

Look at that puckered mouth!

The worst part of our trip ending was the inevitable return home of Grammy and Papa. Izzy could not be any more attached to my mom, but Sophie grows closer and closer, more and more bonded to them each time they visit. She excitedly asks, “Papa?” every time my dad leaves the room, saying his name no fewer than fifty times a day. The girls are smitten.

They adore their grandparents. I think the feeling is mutual.

They adore their grandparents. I think the feeling is mutual.

As they left this morning, we watched them drive away through the living room window. Izzy begged me not to cry, and I agreed. Until Sophie, glimpsing Grammy but not Papa through the window, began to sob. “Papa! Papa!” she cried, searching for him. I began to cry. “Papa is going bye-bye!” I told her, and Izzy began bawling as well. “Grammy! I want Grammy!” she  whimpered. I guess the sad departure is a small price to pay for the bond between girls and grandparents, not to mention the willingness of my parents to provide us with a kid-free weekend. A wise friend once said to me, regarding the family vacation, “Reentry is a bitch.”

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