And that's okay.
Because for all the bickering, the juice spilling, the Legos in the freezer, the submerging of my glasses - not the drinking variety, the destruction of my jewelry, the beds unmade, the messes made, the whining, the not eating of vegetables, and the fingernail polish painting my bathroom floor, there is the knowledge that my children are beyond amazing and for one glorious week, I got to revel in them and that.
I read a blog post not too long ago likening traveling with children a "trip" rather than a "vacation". For me, traveling with my children was the best of vacations, not a trip at all.
Maybe it's because of how I travel. I'm not one to vacation by sitting on a beach and drinking a few umbrella clad cocktails. My beach statute of limitations is about an hour. No. When I vacation, I like to see things, to learn things, to go places. Perhaps that's why I came home from a week with my children that included two cross country flights, rides on the train, the subway, a boat, in a car, and on a bus to historical points of interest, literary points of interest, and scenic points of interest loving them more that I already did.
They are the most amazing of traveling companions. To be honest, they're my favorite to date.
No matter what I threw at them - a tour of Louisa May Alcott's house, a hike through a cemetery to see the tombstones of famous authors, an audio tour in a Gilded Age mansion - they approached it with enthusiasm. They were willing to try anything, to go anywhere. They seemed as excited to travel as I was.
Sure, there were moments that made me count to ten. (Like when Joseph decided a handy tree at the Manse was quicker than a trek back to the parking lot bathroom.) There were moments when I buried my face in my hands. (Like when Elizabeth announced to the Naval Officer at the USS Constitution that Mommy's boobies were really big and makes the alarms go off in the metal detector.) There were even moments I found myself apologizing profusely for my progeny. (Like when Elizabeth walked up to a seated woman while I was signing our bill at Legal Seafood and pet her hair like she was stroking a dog, causing said woman to jump and spin in her seat.) And there were the occasional meltdowns. (Like when I realized I hadn't fed them in five hours because my body was on PST and they were decidedly ready for some EST pizza.)
But for all those moments, every single one, there was this sense that we were on an adventure. We were taking on the world! One historical marker at a time.
Traveling alone with them was something to check off my "Single Mommy" list. I won't say it was stress-free. Anyone who's had a delayed flight or taken a red eye with children knows it can't be stress free. But it was fun. There's something about it, being on our own. When I had another adult with me, my focus was more divided. I found myself holding up a finger and continuing a conversation. But when were were on our own? My focus was entirely on them and I found myself laughing at their silliness, listening to their suggestions when we got lost, and saying "yes" far more frequently than usual.
I don't know if a full week without another adult would have been as much fun, but having the time divided like that was bliss. I got to appreciate my barbarians, the noise of whom is a force on its own. I was able to see a new environment through their eyes, watch them soak history like the little sponges they are, and appreciate their fearless approach to the new and unexplored.
We came back, Elizabeth and I with our matching charm bracelets and Joseph with his collectible pin, and framed our trophies on the wall. One day, I plan for those bracelets to be filled and the framed pin to have countless friends.
I have no idea where we're going to go next, my children and I, but one thing I do know...
It'll be an adventure and I'll love every moment of it.