I went to Vegas with some girlfriends last weekend. The three of us are stay-at-home-moms and each week we meet behind the plexiglass of our 3-year-old daughters’ gymnastics class. A couple of months ago, we decided a Moms Only trip to Vegas was in order. It’s been three years since I spent more than 24 hours away from my children, so I was more than game.
We danced, we drank, we stayed out late and laid by the pool. We ate when, and what we wanted. We got foot massages and I laughed so hard my abdominals still hurt three days later. We put on pretty clothes and spent at least an hour getting ready. I wore heels and Spanx and glittery eye-liner. We went to loud clubs where the music pounded in my chest and it felt good.
We had so much fun that we had TOO much fun. When Monday rolled around and it was time to go home, reality came spinning at me faster than the sevens on those money-sucking slot machines. Ding!
Over those three days I remembered what it was like to take care of only one person… myself. I remembered how electric the nightlife can feel pulsing through my body. I remembered what it was like to sleep until I woke up on my own. I remembered what not having to be anywhere felt like. I remembered the freedom of having choices.
Compared to the rote and often mindless cleaning, cooking, scolding, bickering and cartoon Disney movies of my present-day life, it was like being transported to the Technicolor world of Oz complete with shiny heels, short dresses and good music. I truly hadn’t realized how drastically my life had morphed in ten years until I was suddenly standing in the middle of my 20’s again.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking to be single. I’m not even looking for the ability to binge drink and stay up until 3am. Been there, loved it, over it. What I realized is that freedom and choices are in drastic short supply in my life and I had no idea how much I missed them until I had them back for three, short days in Vegas.
When I became a mother almost four years ago, my obligations burst from the asphalt like a flashy hotel on expensive Las Vegas Strip real estate. Subtract a career, add another child and my choices shrank to the size of a perpetually full laundry basket. It took awhile for the shock of my tethered life to sink in, but what other choice is there when you have children? You just do it. All of it. Over the course of four years, this life became quite natural and I hardly remembered anything else. At some point I found it pointless to think about all the things I CANNOT do because that’s just masochistic. But what I hadn’t realized is that because of this lack of freedom and choices, somewhere inside me there was building a low-grade hum of discontent like the buzz of neon lights.
I came home in a funk. My husband was expecting a different result. He thought I’d be rejuvenated–happy! with my three-day vacation. But I wasn’t. I almost wished I hadn’t gone. I wished I hadn’t tasted the freedom because now I’m in withdrawal, and if I learned anything from my 20’s it’s that no matter how good the high… the crash is always worse.
It’s taken me three days to get my head out of the fog and it is only with distance, perspective and a practiced (if not forced) gratitude, that I can remember the point of going to Oz… to find the way back home.
And I brought some glam and shiny shoes back with me.