As I write this, my children are on their way to Montana.
During this journey, they will be subjected to the delights of my father's driving narration: “Grand Central Travel Stop,” he'll say in Biggs, reading from the nearest business marquis. “Umatilla,” he'll say before crossing the Columbia River into Washington. “There's a Chevron station.” (My father is quite fond of reading aloud most of the roadside signs he passes on any given journey.)
Likewise, my dad and stepmom will be subjected to the delights of a full day of travel with two boys who manage to fight over almost everything in a 1,900-square-foot house, let alone in the 15-square-foot backseat of a sedan. Based on previous experience on road trips with my father, he'll handle it with well-timed glares in the rearview mirror, and, if necessary, a thwap on the knee of the closest child misbehaving behind him.
I wish them all well. They're going to have a great time visiting my sister and her family at the other end of the 10-hour drive (add 10 minutes for every potty stop required by my youngest child).
Meanwhile, my husband and I will be enjoying a rare weekend of childlessness.
Co-workers suggested that maybe I'd sleep in without little ones waking me up demanding breakfast, TV privileges or other such things. I can try. But the truth is I haven't slept past 7 a.m. in about 10 years (coincidentally, that's when my first kid was born!). Even when the kids don't wake me up, I wake early. I think parenthood implants some sort of mommy clock in the brain that forces early-morning wakefulness even in the absence of children.
So I may be up early in the morning, but I'm still going to enjoy it. Here's what I plan to do with a weekend sans kids:
• I will enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and drink it while it is hot. No interruptions to break up kid arguments or to herd kids through their morning routine of finding clothes, getting dressed, packing backpacks, etc. No refrain of “Mommy ... Mommy ... Mommy ... Mommy” disturbing my ingestion of caffeine. Just me and a cup of sweet, sweet coffee.
• I will have a conversation with my spouse that is not conducted via text message or email and that is not subjected to 3.5 interruptions per minute, which is the standard rate of interruption for kids ages 10 and 7. We will not talk about who is doing school transport the next day, which kid's shoes are getting too small or how the 10-year-old did on his long division homework. We will have an actual, adult conversation about actual, adult topics, such as the national deficit and what movie we want to watch.
• Speaking of which, we will watch a movie on the couch that does not include animated characters, a talking dog or any kind of princess or orphaned animal. The movie may contain violence, and we will not have to fast-forward through it. It will feature dialogue that we will actually be able to listen to without straining to hear it above popcorn-smacking kids. We will not have to pause this movie five times for potty breaks.
• I will not stress out about dinner. We may end up eating cottage cheese and Doritos, or a fried egg and spinach sandwich. Or breakfast cereal. We may eat at 6 p.m., or we may eat at 9 p.m. Who cares? With no kids in the house, the pressure is off, for once, to put something nourishing and timely on the table.
• I will clean the house knowing that it will NOT be messy again within 5 minutes. It will stay clean for a significant period of time (that being until the kids come home again Monday night).
• I will miss my kids. So will my husband. But we'll also appreciate the heck out of one weekend without them.