Vegas, No Baby
Getting away to get back to yourself and your marriage
-Julie Ryan Evans
It was Saturday afternoon, and there I was sitting in a casino at a slot machine by myself sipping cool chardonnay and smiling at the anonymity of it all. No one there had any idea that I was a suburban mother with an infant and a 5-year-old at home. I could be anyone.
I could feel the difference in the looks I got and noted the different flow of the conversations than those I usually have. The people who sat at the machines beside me and the bartenders asked about me, just me. No one asked how old my son was, or commented on my daughter’s hair; no one looked at me like I needed to quiet my children or smiled a slightly pitying smile as I tried to manage the two of them, because they weren’t there. They were back in Florida, and my husband and I were in Las Vegas, having left them for our first adult getaway ever since having children five and a half years ago.
It was a trip too good to pass up really – through my husband’s work. He started bringing it up a few months ago, and said we really should go. I love Vegas, but was a little hesitant because of the new baby, and who would watch our children, and what would they do without us …
But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got about it. So I ran the idea by my mother, who lives in Nebraska, and asked if she’d come to Florida and watch them. She was thrilled, and it just so happened that my sister was able to come, too, for a perfect one-on-one defense. There was no reason not to go.
So they flew in, we briefed them on all they needed to know to get through three days – how you have to bounce and walk around the house to get Lila Claire to sleep, how Nolan’s carpool works, bedtimes, bathtimes, mealtimes and zillions of other details that seem impossible to impart to someone else.
I kept waiting for a temperature to spike, a flu to hit, or something that was going to cancel our plans. But nothing did, and before I knew it, it was wheels up and “Viva Las Vegas” blaring through the speakers.
It was a quick trip, a blur really of three days and two nights, but it was so much fun. We saw the opening night performance of The Lion King (amazing!), we went to incredible dinners, drank wine and napped during the middle of the day and had amazing seats for the Gwen Stefani concert. Things we haven’t done in years.
After dinner, bath and bedtimes, my husband typically heads to bed while I stay up late and work so he can get up with the children in the morning. It works for us, but, oh, what a difference a couple of children make.
We dated for almost five years before we got married, then we were married for about four years before we ever had children. So we had a lot of time together alone during which we traveled, saw plays and shows and explored the many cities we lived in. When we finally had children, we were really ready to settle down, and we threw ourselves into parenthood full force.
I’ve really never felt like we were missing out, we just adjusted our life. We’ve never used many baby-sitters, but instead of going out, we get takeout and watch a movie at home. We still have dinner parties, but they just start at 3 p.m. and are served on paper plates with kids running around. And I love all that.
But I forgot just how much fun my husband and I used to have together, when it was just the two of us. We used to go out and laugh and play and hold hands and explore. And in Vegas we got to do it again without the distractions (distractions I love, but distractions nonetheless) of sippy cups and kids’ menus and “shh, use your indoor voice” we’ve become so accustomed to.
While in Vegas there were still bottles, but they were filled with wine rather than formula; and the cries in the middle of the night were from people partying in the hall rather than Lila Claire waking. No one asked me for snacks or to help them wipe, though everywhere I turned someone asked me for a tip …
But it was in the little things that I felt the biggest differences from my “real” life. Taking my time getting ready, fully blow-drying my hair and putting on lotion and perfume without worrying about my children inhaling it. Getting dressed up – wearing heels so high my legs will ache for days and a dress that I didn’t have to worry about getting prints from sticky little fingers or spit up on. A random man buying me a drink while my husband was off in another area – do you have any idea how long it has been since that happened? – and, oh, what a nice boost for my self-esteem.
I love being a mother with every ounce of my being, but it can be all-consuming, and it can be hard to keep that part of yourself that you once were still thriving and growing in the ways you once did because you’re so busy helping everyone else thrive and grow. And having that little acknowledgment of you as a couple, you as a woman is a nice reminder of a life that was ours … not that long ago.
We have neither the funds nor the desire to leave our children for vacations like this on a regular basis … although if my parents and sister lived closer, I would certainly consider it more often. But I also don’t want to let what happened in Vegas stay in Vegas. I want to make it a priority to go out on our own, to cough up the money for a baby-sitter instead of saying that a movie and bottle of wine at home is just as good. Because it’s not – at least not always.
This coming weekend we’ll be going on a completely opposite vacation where it’s all about the children. We’re checking into the Nickelodeon hotel for the weekend – complete with character-themed rooms, water parks and slime machines. And I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun too … just a very different kind of fun.
Read Julie’s last blog, “Switched at Birth“