I’ve never been a Girls’ Night Out-kinda mom. I don’t do the chicks-only weekends at the beach or the spa days or even the Bunco nights. My husband travels a ton for his job and is often gone for weeks at a time. I work from home so I’m the one holding down the suburban fort, making sure there’s no upheaval in our 9-year-old son, Luke’s life.
Until a few weeks ago.
A friend had enough frequent flier mileage for a trip for two to Italy and I just happen to have zillions of relatives in the old country who were more than willing to ply us with pasta and prosciutto and fresh provolone.
Although I’d never left Luke for more than three or four days, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I made sure the refrigerator was stocked, every piece of clothing in the house was clean, and every school permission slip was signed. I slapped a “please feed me” Post-It on the frog’s tank, slipped the dog his heartworm pill and headed to the airport, waiting for the waves of guilt to wash over me.
They never came. I gleefully navigated the winding cobblestone streets of Chiauci, the mountaintop town where my parents were born, talking to long-lost great-uncles about their upcoming tomato crops, how the village soccer team was doing, and how the place really hasn’t been the same since my dad closed his bar and moved to America.
I spent hours hanging with my cousins, wandering neighboring towns, driving through the poppy-covered countryside, and touring old castles and even a ghost town. I practiced my Italian, talking family history in pizzerias and coffee shops. All things that would’ve made my son’s eyes pop out of his head in boredom.
For two weeks I felt like a grown-up. No telling anybody to pick up after himself. No packing school lunches. No listening to incessant begging to watch television or play computer games.
I called home regularly, getting reports about field day, the piano recital and, eventually, how much I was being missed. Luke (and my husband!) finally realized how much mom really does. I realized how cool it was to just take care of myself for awhile.
I did a flurry of last-minute shopping, loading up on guilt gifts before heading home. When I saw him at the airport, I swore Luke had grown three inches — but he let me hug him. And this time, even hugged me back. Pretty good for a 4th grade boy.
I’ll never do Bunco, but I’m putting Italy on my agenda as often as I can swing it. I loved finding out about my mom and dad. And I loved finding me too.