Well, I did it! I went to Denver for a week ALL BY MYSELF! I don't think I've traveled solo in over 20 years! This was big for Mama Butler and now that I've been back for a full week, I am asking myself if I actually did in fact go.
Going on vacation is no easy task in this family. The preparations for packing for eight kids, a husband and organizing the household care upon departure is a full-time job. Still, I'm no fool. My motto is it's well worth the work to get it all done so that we can get away and enjoy being out of our crazy routine called life.
Preparing to go away alone, however, is an entirely different business. Anticipating the needs of eight kids, and in particular a husband who isn't used to running them around during the week or getting them ready for school each day, never mind feeding them and providing them with clean underwear every morning was a real workout. Again, I'm no fool. The only two other alternatives were to forget the whole deal and just stay at home (not happening!) or letting them all fend for themselves (tempting, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it).
Knowing that I would have nearly a full, glorious week of leisure at my friend Amy's home in gorgeous Colorado was well worth the incentive to get my ducks all lined up in a nice little row so I could buckle my seat on the airplane and just smile and look ahead to a good time-alone!
So that is exactly what I did. I nearly killed myself (I mean I exerted myself) for two full weeks before I left so that meals would be waiting in the freezer, extra outfits and undies would be waiting for each child in a neat little stack on their dressers should they need them, did the lunch money and pre-packed the school snacks a week in advance and cleaned the entire house from attic to basement for heaven's sake, just so I could go away with a clean conscience that my family wouldn't have to do a thing while I was gone.
How silly of me!
I learned three wonderful lessons while I was in Colorado, and I pray I never forget them anytime soon!
#1. I do too much for my family! I say this lovingly, of course. The oldest is 16 years old and the next three in line are only one year younger each. I have completely done them a big disservice by anticipating all their "household" needs. My fabulous friend, Amy, does not make her kids' lunches, (she has four kids-three are 16-year old triplets!)
Her daughters do their own laundry, and she rarely irons all year long! Not that she doesn't dote on them or care for them meticulously-she just has her priorities in the right places! Thank you Amy!
#2. Alone time for any parent is a MUST! I know I cannot escape to places like Denver each time I want a getaway or a little me time, but by golly, having a hot bath several times a week with a good book, or walking around the neighborhood ALONE is not a crime. Cheryl Butler will not be placed on America's Most Wanted List for taking time for herself.
#3. Never take your own family for granted. My time away was pure heaven, and I cried when I had to leave, but knowing I was coming home to a wonderful husband and eight feisty and healthy children was reason to just be thankful that I even got to go in the first place. (And I think they appreciate me a whole lot more, too!)
That said, with this brand new school year upon us and a fabulous vacation now under my belt, I am looking forward to learning a few new things about myself this year! For 16 years I've had the privilege of being a mother; now, I'm hoping for the privilege of taking a tad better care of myself in the process!
Hope you are all well and perhaps enjoying a bit of foliage in your neck of the woods!