I just returned from a short vacation, not only without the kids, but – for the very first time – having left them home alone without adult supervision. Before the speed dialers hit the DSS hotline, I guess I should point out that 50% of my dependents are, in fact, (cough) adults. Well, as per their official documentation, they are. Legally, I was good.
Quasi-adults or not, I’m not going to say it was without stress. Quite the contrary, in the days leading up to departure I think my hair started falling out more than normal and a queasiness in my belly was brewing. Graphic headlines taunted my dreams: Selfish Parents Perish in Plane Crash … Kids Left Alone Arrested for Stealing Snacks, Claim Partying Parents Left No Food … Party House Sees $20k in Damages for Negligent Owners.
Good God. What was I thinking?
For the record, I challenge my husband frequently on daily matters both big and trivial – you name it, I will argue it: parenting issues, furniture-placement, even which appetizers to order in restaurants. But when he was doing his best to convince me of a solo jaunt more than six months ago, well, it didn’t feel like much of a fighting matter because there seemed to be more pros than cons. We’d gotten a super cheap deal on both lodging and flights, our eldest would be turning 21 by summer’s end, and the remaining 3 were primarily self-sufficient (bathroom hygiene notwithstanding but I imagine with teenagers that issue won’t be disappearing anytime soon, eh?). Besides, our neighborhood watch is stellar and my kids knew it: my phone would rival the Batphone should any shenanigans arise.
But six months came quickly and by the time I should’ve started packing, I still wasn’t so sure I was comfortable with the decision.
“My parents left me alone for a week when I was a junior in high school,” my husband countered. I just gave him the face (cue in knowing nod from all the wives out there).
I cooked for days, typed and retyped a multitude of lists, texted every neighbor within earshot of my address and threatened every one of my spawn with their own personal Achilles Heel of punishment. If Project X was going to happen in my absence, livelihoods were going down, one body at a time, dammit. It would be a race to the rat-out of epic proportion.
So we grabbed a couple of friends who like us, never came across a Happy Hour they couldn’t enjoy, and hopped over to Myrtle Beach for three days.
Now, Myrtle Beach is a fine and lovely place. It is also – in the middle of August – Africa hot. (Hence the need for Happy Hours in South Carolina? Coincidence? I think not.)
And three days isn’t a particularly long time – especially when you’re on the clock of Only Got Three Days – but hitting the ground running upon arrival helps.
We sat our sleep deprived selves in one lounge chair after another (by day) and one bar stool after another (by night) and amassed some amazing laughs in a mere 72 hours.
The kids called every so often and only one questioning text came in from the neighborhood watch. When I realized the house wasn’t going up in flames and no one seemed to be killing each other, I had to (popular song reference ahead) let it go.
We had a rental car but we jumped into nightly cabs regardless to do our part to be responsible. Turns out, my kids were doing theirs.
When we arrived back my daughter (19) audibly sighed with relief when she got in from work. “I am sooo glad you’re home,” she said, slumping down on the couch with me. Hmmm. This responsibility thing is exhausting, isn’t it?
My middle son (15) couldn’t wait to show me something cool.
“Mom, come here, check this out.” He was giddy.
He tapped the centerpiece fruit bowl, which contained a frightfully blackened banana and what appeared to be a couple of apples from the Clinton administration. Three thousand fruit flies shot up and swarmed crazily above it.
Note to self: Despite the obvious, “Throw out rotting fruit” needs to get typed onto that list next time.
But alas, will there be a next time? Maybe down the road but definitely not for a long time.
I need to wait until my hair starts growing back in before even thinking about it.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. –