Disengaging the Mother Ship

A stay-at-home mom of three escapes for some time on her own
By Leonora Found

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I am a 38-and-a-half-year-old (as my children like to remind me) mother of three. My daughter M is nine (oh yes, let’s not forget the half), Mx is seven and J is just 18 months. My husband, let’s call him George, purely because he would think it ludicrous, heads up the finance department of a big corporate. We live in the suburbs where my life revolves around watching countless episodes of Barney, chasing children around on their black plastic push bikes and playing hide-and-seek with my toddler who, like most children his age, thinks that covering his eyes makes him invisible. I also do the morning Moms and Tots thing and swimming lessons, of course. In the afternoons, I’m the local taxi driver, making sure each child gets to the right extramural at the right time on the right day – no easy feat. All this in between mediating sibling fights, taming tantrums, and cooking and cleaning. But come 7pm, the children disappear into their respective rooms and the house is quiet. I lay the dinner table for two, complete with candles, and George arrives home to fragrant aromas from the slow cooker – okay, not quite. But the house is quiet.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and being a mom, but sometimes my life feels like the luggage conveyer belt at Heathrow airport – monotonous and constantly on the move
Checking out
After yet another Groundhog day, I collapsed into bed next to George, who had been camped out there for quite some time reading, and blurted out that I needed to go on a conference. “Mmm,” he said, as he continued reading, clearly engrossed in his article. “I would like to go on a conference,” I repeated a little louder, in an effort to get his attention. “Oh,” he said, “have you found something you want to attend?” Of course I hadn’t. I was just testing the waters. All I was thinking was that he gets to travel to exotic places and break the monotony of his daily routine, and so should I. 
Stumped,I sat quietly fora good 10 minutes thinking of what conference I could attend. Eventually it occurred to me when I really needed was some space. And so, with my husband's full support I went about planning “Operation Escape”.
George took two days’ leave so I didn’t have to give up a weekend with the children and I booked into a five-star hotel near the sea. I was so excited about my solo trip and relished the idea of George spending a few days in my shoes. Picturing him rushing from a late afternoon extramural to a homework session with our Grade 1, all while trying to force feed our toddler and test our nine-year-old daughter on her spelling, amused me to no end. Of course I made sure to put together an hour-by-hour plan to ensure everyone survived in my absence and I prepared dinner for the two nights I was away so nobody went hungry.
Ready, set, go
Finally, the day arrived and “Operation Escape” was a go. I pulled up to the five-star hotel my husband generously paid for, with three giant plastic storage containers in tow (and my suitcase, of course). What better way to relax than by sorting through 12 years of photographs? Feeling slightly embarrassed by these unsightly containers, I decided to assume the role of a paralegal working on a top-secret investigation for which I needed to review evidence. (Clearly, I read too much John Grisham.) But my cover was blown fairly quickly when I noticed saliva, snot and Bovril stains on my jacket sleeve – not quite fitting of a high-powered paralegal. I quietly took my room key from the receptionist and headed to my suite to begin my breakaway. Of course being a busy mom, I hadn’t been to a hotel in years and found myself struggling to work the key card, which operated the lift. Just as panic set in, the lift started moving and I found myself in the basement where another hotel guest, who had clearly frequented a hotel in the last decade and knew how to work a keycard, took me up to my floor.
Once in my room, which also required some negotiating with the key card, I was finally ready to kick off my shoes and unwind. But, despite the swanky accommodation and my plans to sleep in and order room service for three days, I found myself spending the first few hours organising my clothes, folding my pyjamas neatly under my pillow and arranging my toiletries on the bathroom shelf – old habits die hard. I was also awake at 5am every day. While I did manage to relax, and definitely appreciated the time off, I realised that you can never really disconnect from the Mothership – and maybe it took me going away for three days to realise that I don’t want to. 


Anonymous wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

Brilliant:) I recently went to New York on business and spent half my free time on Skype with my 3 brats and smsing my husband to find out what was going on every 5 minutes :)

Anonymous wrote 6 years 50 weeks ago

Love your article. Can SOOOO relate to EVERYTHING!! Well done!!! And thanks for the laugh...

Anonymous wrote 6 years 50 weeks ago

Leonora, your article is absolutely hilarious. I too am a 38 and a bit mom, to a gorgeous 9 month old daughter. I can so relate to the "always" being on duty even with a helpful husband! Take one very loooooooong extended family Easter break,a visibly pulsating vein next to my twitchy eye and cranky as all hell..........my husband spent quality time with our daughter, and treated me to a few hours at the spa. No words can express the gratitude I felt that he understood my head space (was bleak). He's definitely a keeper! :)

Anonymous wrote 6 years 50 weeks ago

Love it! Totally relate!

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