Last week saw me fly to Melbourne for work. As you can imagine, this was incredibly difficult for me. I was forced to leave my three children for three whole nights, which was wrenching and painful. Without my husband by my side, I felt lonely and sad. And, alone in my lovely hotel room with only the television, my laptop, and a room service hamburger and chips to keep me company, I felt lost and adrift, like a dinghy floating out in a cold, dark sea.
And if you believed any of the above, then I suggest you move away from the screen, slap yourself hard across the face, and ask yourself what has happened to your life that you could possibly think such a thing.
Because I had an absolute ball. From the moment the taxi driver carried my bag into the car (he carried my bag! Do you know what that’s like? Most days I’m carrying two school bags, a toddler, a two litre bottle of milk, a handbag, and the guilt of having yelled at my kids within three minutes of picking them up from school!!!) I felt light and free and Very Important, only the good kind of important, not the kind that involves three little people depending on you to make them sausages for dinner and find their sports shoes in the morning.
Flying to Melbourne, I felt relaxed and at ease – so at ease, in fact, that when turbulence hit, I didn’t grip tightly onto the armrests, brace myself for a crash, and fixate on the faces of the flight attendants (you know... to see if they turned white with fear or kept pouring tea and distributing bikkies) but looked cheerfully out the window, knowing the bouncing would soon ease. (Okay, so I was clenching my jaw so hard my tooth almost snapped off, but it was still an improvement on my previous efforts.)
Once I landed in Melbourne I took a taxi to my hotel. And the hotel was delightful. Now, to be honest, I could have stayed in a campervan and I would have enjoyed the break from the kids and housework (provided it had its own toilet facilities. Nothing will compensate for having to share a bathroom.) But to have a break from my life in gorgeous surroundings with big fluffy white pillows and my very own mini-bar was just too good to be true. That evening I sat on the bed and ate room service and looked out at the view and wondered just how long it would take me to miss my kids. And I figured, probably not too long, but definitely longer than 12 hours. And I was right.
By the time I returned home, some 60 hours later, I felt quite refreshed and renewed. I had missed my kids and was ready to return, but was grateful for the time I’d had away. Time to be me, and not a mum. Time to meet new people, with a clean, fresh slate. Time to do some work away from my own little desk. Time to move outside of my own world and step into another, if only for a few days.
Because life is big, and you need to taste different parts of it. And if you can do it in a gorgeous hotel with big fluffy pillows, well, that’s just a bonus.