About a decade ago Ayelet Waldman wrote “Motherlove” – a controversial essay that ignited a firestorm and outraged those in the parenting community. The piece (reprinted in the New York Times column “Modern Love”) explored the nature of intimate spousal relationships and set forth a simple premise, one that was hard for some to digest. Waldman wrote that her children were not the center of her world, that “they were satellites, beloved but tangential.” That was the controversial part. Though Waldman proclaimed her love for her four children, she said “if you focus all of your emotional passion on your children and you neglect the relationship that brought that family into existence... eventually, things can go really, really wrong.”
Now don’t worry, things aren’t dire on this end, but I have been thinking a lot about how to balance life’s demands, which include work, marriage and motherhood. I don’t agree with all of Waldman’s points (Otis and Theo, you’re not satellites to me!), but there are parts of her essay that resonated with me. I agree with the idea that marriages need nurturing, and in our fast-paced world, quality time can be elusive.
Raising children has lots of rewards, but it can also be exhausting. I love my boys dearly, but by the end of the day I’m spent and it seems like the only thing I have energy for is scrolling through Pinterest (or some other activity that doesn’t require a lot of brain power). Once I pick those little energized bunnies up from school there’s cooking to do, books to read, baths to take, lots of cleaning (I’m very particular), laundry to be folded, and I’ve got to identify and remove the foul and mysterious odors emanating from the car. By the time everything is done it’s about 10 p.m. and I’ve got very little gas left in the tank, no pun intended.
Look, this is part of the life I wanted and it’s what I signed up for. However, I have come to recognize the need to reorganize things a bit and shift priorities a little. I definitely need more quality time with my husband. It’s sometimes hard to carve out the hours needed to reconnect and remind us why we decided to couple in the first place. But where’s there’s a will, there’s a way!
You can probably imagine how excited I was to be surprised by a childfree trip to Hawaii!!! It came at a welcome time AND it coincided with my 40th birthday.
Matt worked hard to put the entire vacation together. He “cashed in” thousands of hotel points and miles, snagged rooms at fantastic hotels (relaxation!) and secured a coveted reservation for a cabin inside Halaekala’s crater (adventure!). He coordinated with his parents (who flew across the country) and they provided kid-coverage while we were gone. He arranged our free flights, including first class tickets for the trans-Pacific leg of our trip (unlimited mimosas!), and he did it all without my knowledge. Well, until I spotted a hotel reservation in my inbox. Whoops! (It happened because he used some of my miles too.)
So what can I say about our adventure?
It was spectacular. We relaxed and we connected. We found off-the-beaten-path spots and ate incredible food. I had a fabulous birthday dinner and we went whale watching. We drove the Road to Hana in a jeep (roof down!) and we drank our body weight in Tangelo juice.
But perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the three days we spent hiking inside Haleakala’s crater-- off the grid, without cell service, computers, or distractions. I couldn’t get over how quiet it was and at times we felt like we were the only ones there, though we did come across a couple of Nene birds and some Hawaiian cowboys (see below). We took in the beauty of Hawaii’s black sand dunes and pink volcanic cones. And we hiked out of the crater under the moonlight in order to catch sunrise peaking above the clouds, something on my bucket list which I had always wanted to do. The trip was restorative and adventurous. We felt intrepid and connected. Now I just have to figure out how to incorporate those things into our day-to-day, because one can’t live life on vacation J
Here’s to a well-balanced life!