Phew! Yesterday I got my husband back after being gone for 10 DAYS. 10 days, my friends, is a long time to be the only adult in the house. I didn’t write about it before because, well, I don’t like the idea of practically inviting crazy people to come break into my house when I’m home alone. I’m nervous enough about home alone as it is. Not that you’re ALL crazy, but one never knows.
When Benjamin told me he had to go away for 10 days for work, I reluctantly gave him my blessing. Hey, he owns his own business, so when the jobs are good, you don’t say no. It was the longest amount of time he’s been away since Owen was born (and probably since we got married). I dreaded the many nights of being stuck in the house with no one to talk to after Owen went to bed. I was exhausted already thinking about how to entertain us both for two 3-day weekends and how to get Owen to and from daycare while still putting in my time at work. I cringed thinking of trying to cook dinner with Owen whining for me to play with him.
But you know what? I was totally wrong. It was actually really, really fun.
Don’t get me wrong, I missed Benjamin. I missed him A LOT. I missed talking and laughing with him at night while cleaning up the kitchen and packing Owen’s lunch for the next day and snuggling down in front of the tv. I missed brushing our teeth together and hopping into bed knowing that he was right there next to me. I missed strolling to get coffee on the weekends and having him hold the dog leash while I pushed the stroller. I missed having him do the dishes (all day! every day!) and share the daycare pickups and dropoffs.
But “taking care” of Owen has slowly but surely shifted to “hanging out” with Owen. Our days are no longer entirely one-sided (with me doing all of the talking, planning, doing, walking, entertaining, playing, etc.). He is helpful and hilarious. He can make decisions about what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. He understands compromise and makes up games to play and actually entertains himself for short periods. Compared to when Owen was younger, this 10-day stretch was an absolute breeze.
The thing that pushed our time together from tolerable to thoroughly enjoyable? Little adventures.
Everything is an adventure to a 2 year old. And when it was just me and Owen, and I really didn’t plan anything to do other than to be with him? I was able to fully engage in the adventures too. We went to the local farmer’s market and instead of rushing through and grabbing something in particular and going home because we had other plans, we lingered. He danced to the old dudes playing trumpets. He patted everyone’s dogs. He wandered through the stalls and tasted green beans and fresh mozzarella and we talked about fruits and picked out a selection for the week. We held hands and walked places rather than taking the stroller. I got a coffee at a little bakery and he drank his sippy cup and we sat at a table together, just shooting the breeze.
The first weekend went by without tantrums or stress or rushing anywhere. The week was relatively smooth, though I found myself staying up late to clean the kitchen and pack his food and didn’t really get that “down time in front of the tv” that usually helps me wind down. I had to shuffle some work things and cancel some workouts in order to get him to and from school each day while I went to work, but we made it work.
The second weekend I decided it was time for a real adventure and we got last minute tickets to Baltimore (where my dad lives). Owen and I have flown several times; usually with Benjamin, but at least one other time with just me, when he was an infant. This time was a little trickier because we had his carseat, our umbrella stroller, a suitcase and a diaper bag of toys and snacks to keep him entertained. That’s a lot for one Mama to carry! And, most importantly, he now has the ability to run away from me at any second if he’s not strapped into his seat.
But! The trip was SO smooth. Owen was awesome and the excitement of traveling and being in a new place and seeing new people kept us both occupied. For those traveling with 2 year olds, here are the top 5 things that made this adventure awesome, rather than awful.
- This music player. I know, I’ve written about it before. But music player + kid headphones = bliss. For both of us. I literally even got to read my Kindle for about 1 minute before he wanted to talk to me again. Bliss, I tell you!
- A new book of stickers. I thought this activity book would be above his skill level and expected him just to stick the stickers wherever, but he actually totally understood that there were shadow shapes that corresponded to each sticker and it kept him occupied for a long, long time.
- Magnet board with trucks. Self-explanatory. Super fun. Good for the plane because the pieces stick!
- SNACKS. The kid will eat anything while traveling. He thinks it’s SO fun. Green beans, cherry tomatoes cut in half and airplane peanuts were the biggest hit this time around.
- My iPhone. He was SO EXCITED that he was allowed to play the games on my phone (that normally are off-limits) and I literally could have just brought my phone and nothing else and he would have been happy. Except during takeoff and landing.
Easy peasy. Loved this special little Mommy and Owen adventure. And now we are SO happy to have Daddy home again!