How I Beat the Blues and Got My Parental Groove Back

I had been feeling blue for a couple weeks. Things just seemed to keep piling up: budget stresses, a canceled work trip, a disagreement with my husband that dragged into several days of hurt feelings and resentment, a helpless sort of frustration over the thankless parenting tasks that take up my days and never reach completion. "Blue" is a bit of an understatement, really: I spent several days so crushed and miserable I could barely find the energy to get dressed.

Do you know that there's an actual medical diagnosis for this sort of thing? Apparently it's an adjustment disorder -- the short-term condition of being unable to adjust to a particular source of stress. Symptoms include being sad, having no energy, and eating all the sugary carbohydrates that it's possible to cram in your face-hole.

Me, I call it feeling shitty because, you know, things were kind of shitty. Here's how I decided to treat it: I ran away from home.


I basically did the middle-aged mom equivalent of throwing a can of beans in a red bandana, tying it on a stick, and hopping the nearest train: I packed some magazines and snacks, booked a hotel room on the coast with a giant Jacuzzi tub, and hit the road. Solo. And oh my god, it was wonderful.

Driving through misty autumn-tinged forests while listening to whatever I wanted on the CD player -- at whatever VOLUME I wanted? Bliss. Settling into a cozy and quiet hotel room where the toilet wasn't pre-seasoned with someone else's pee? Magical. Cruising through a tiny coastal town, stopping whenever and wherever I felt like it, before retiring to a silent room and soaking in a perfectly-clean tub while losing myself in the mindless chatter of an Us Weekly and savoring a cookie that I didn't even have to share? PRACTICALLY ORGASMIC.

I know you can't really run away from your problems, but for that one day, I felt like I had. There were no stacks of laundry, no meals to prepare, no deadlines to meet. No conversations. No requests. No one else's needs to consider. Nothing.

If it hadn't have been for the 11 a.m. checkout time the next morning, I think I'd still be there right now.

I left reluctantly, but it was good to come home. Later that night, I curled on the couch next to my husband and listened to the boisterous squawks of our children as they pretended to be ninjas, and I looked around at the familiar sights of our messy, chaotic household -- laundry already piling up, crumbs everywhere, my computer glowing with to-dos -- and I realized deep in my bones how very, very lucky I am.

Man, I needed that break. For the decompression, for the perspective, for the sheer luxury of it. I'm glad I left, and I plan to do it again.

Have you ever taken yourself on a mini-vacation? Would you, if the opportunity arose?

Image via Linda Sharps

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