While on our trip to Las Vegas, Mrs. Cutter and I learned an important lesson: You might be away from your kids, but you never stop being a parent.
For instance, it is tough to adjust to Pacific time when you’re used to waking up at 6:30 AM Eastern. (I realize that this problem isn’t exclusive to parents, but you’ll find that children don’t come with optional snooze buttons.) Every night, it felt like others were just getting started while we were yawning our heads off and trying not to pass out. It was especially bad on Friday night when the bride and groom rented a party bus, and Mrs. Cutter and I were both wondering how we were going to make it all night. (We didn’t; We ended up bailing early.)
We probably could have made more of an effort to adjust, but we didn’t think that was the best idea. Did we really want our bodies to grow accustomed to sleeping late since upon returning home we’d have a couple of children making sure we didn’t sleep past 7 AM?
Retiring early did have one small advantage: I got to see a rarely-seen side of Las Vegas.
I had no idea what time I’d wake up on Thursday morning. Even though I went to sleep later than usual, I wouldn’t have been shocked if I was wide awake at 4 AM. So when I managed to sleep until 5:30 on Thursday, I considered it to be a victory. (Lasting until 6 the next day was even better!)
After waking up, I took a look out the window, and realized that while the city never completely shuts down, 6 AM is about as close as it gets. All but the heartiest of late night partiers have headed home, while most of the early morning crowd has yet to hit the streets. As a result, the streets are relatively empty, most of the hotel room lights are out, and only a few of the casino marquees are still lit.
Mrs. Cutter soon woke up, and we proceeded to spend our morning in a most unusual manner: By doing nothing.
We didn’t get dressed for work. We didn’t serve anyone breakfast. We didn’t change any diapers. We didn’t get anyone’s lunch together. We didn’t nag anyone to get ready so that they wouldn’t be late for the bus. And we didn’t try to get anyone to stop crying because they’d go into an irrational screaming fit every time we put them down.
It was quite pleasant. We made sure to repeat the process the next two days as well.
Even that abundance of free time came with a cost. There are many stories of convicts having trouble re-adjusting to the outside world after being released from prison. They had become so used to an ultra-regulated schedule that they lose the ability to plan for themselves.
I’ve gotten so used to all my time being scheduled around work and my family that I have difficulty knowing what to do myself once freed from those concerns. I had nothing to do on both Thursday and Friday afternoons and in a way, I felt lost.
Don’t worry; Between the shooting range, the pool, and a trip to downtown Las Vegas, I was able to fill the time adequately. I even got to sit and read a book. How often does that happen?
Unfortunately, the relaxation wasn’t complete. Every night we called or FaceTimed home so that we could see how everyone was doing and say good night to the Cutlet. On Thursday night, this became a problem when the Cutlet freaked out.
I’m not sure what happened. She had a small (barely visible) cut on her leg, and she reacted as if her leg had been chopped off. She refused to calm down, and unfortunately nobody could seem to console her.
I eventually got her to calm down, but it wasn’t easy; I had to pretend to run into a wall and hurt myself and promised her that Grammy would apply a Band-Aid to her cut as soon as possible. (Which wasn’t all that soon because once again the Cutlass was being clingy.)
Obviously, her freak out wasn’t really about her “injury” and more about being upset that we had left. That put a damper on our mood. We wondered: Were we bad parents for actually going away without the kids? Or was having some time without them necessary for our marriage, and in the end will make the entire family stronger? (Did I ever mention that I’m really good at rationalizing?)
The day after we returned, the children were all quite happy. In fact, it might have been one of the twins’ happiest days ever. I guess they missed us. And while it was nice to get away for a few days, I think when it comes down to it, I really missed them too.
Have any other parents experienced something similar? Do you have a tough time truly leaving it all behind?