The Blended Trip
I took a leap of faith, spent a bunch of money, and took 5 kids on a blended family trip from Boston to Miami with my partner. Together we had a two year old daughter who I was raising with my three sons. We also brought my partner's son, who we parented every other weekend when he visited from his mother's house where he lived the rest of the time. The trip was my idea, and including his son was important to me. Just just like any other experience in life, there were lessons learned. I wanted to do something fun with the kids, and escape the cool New England air for awhile. Constantly striving to keep the peace with my partner and make our blended family work, I had a false sense of optimism things might improve. But, if you can't get along at home, changing the environment doesn't necessarily improve things, even if you are in beautiful Miami air.
Flying out of Boston on a delayed flight with a two-year old who couldn't sit longer then 3 minutes (plus 4 other kids) proved to be a rough start. But, even more stressful, before the plane even took off, my partner tells me he's miserable and that he doesn't want to go. I tried to provide the positivity, and it worked for awhile. He wasn't used to being with the kids for more than few hours at a time, I secretly wondered also if I'd made the wrong decision. I quickly learned upon arrival that he planned to work anyway while in Miami. I accepted that it was a trip for me and the kids and that we would enjoy it together. I was used being with the kids without another adult at home anyway. My partner really only parented once in a while for our daughter and every other weekend for his son. My ex-husband was working out of state at the time and emotionally, I felt like a single parent. Regardless, my hopeful self was disappointed he had agreed to go when he didn't want to.
In the beginning, I accepted the situation for what it was, we were in Miami after all and we were going to enjoy the warm sun! I played and played with the kids non-stop, we drank smoothies, we swam, we made friends, we talked about life, we played games by the pool. I caught up with each one on school and life. At times, I played with them like a child-- jumping, swimming, running and laughing.
But by day 3, I needed a break from the kids, I needed something for me.
I emailed my Mom.
"What should I do?" I asked her.
"Listen to yourself," she said. I knew what she meant, I needed some time alone, it had been a long time.
It was late and my partner agreed to stay in the room for awhile. I put on a dress and walked across the pool where there was Flamenco Dancing at the hotel bar. I thought of the kids and if I should go back. Would they be OK? I remember looking at him before I left the room. He had a glass of merlot in front of him, 5 kids relaxed from the fun day we had each sprawled out across the floor and coach. There was the sound of little mouths chopping away on bits of popcorn. With the boys happily watching Phantom Menace, and my 2 year old daughter just about asleep, I take the break I need.
I order a strawberry daiquiri at the pool bar, which tasted delicious in the warm evening air. I thought of how I hadn't sat alone at a bar..ever maybe. The Flamenco dancers came out and brought everyone out to dance with them--I was happy to join in. A couple from St.Louis invited me to join them at their table. As empty nesters, they were traveling alone, and were very much in love. They talked to me about having independent, adult children and how they are now able to vacation as a couple. The concept of having a relaxing vacation with a loving partner seemed so foreign...I went back to the room, I felt happy with that dream.
The couple I met got me thinking about my life. I was parenting children ages 2-13 in a blended family and most of the time, I was doing it alone. I thought about that really meant. I had given up my career for awhile to focus on the children, and in some ways my whole life felt it was on hold. I could be present and have fun with my children, but at the end of the day, I was unhappy. I started to think about what really gave me that stress..I knew I was missing something. The optimist in me just wouldn't allow me to believe that I should give up on my blended family. Although my partner was often not parenting with me, wasn't it better then truly being alone? Wasn't one very imperfect household better than 2 for my daughter?
I hope my children hold in their hearts the memories we shared that were good and fun. As for me, I left the trip thinking about the future...and dreaming of a day where I may also have a loving partner who will join me on the trip of life.
Singing Beach, Manchester by the Sea, MA