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Giving Mom Space Brings Family Closer Together

Parenting experts profess that the secret to raising happy, well-adjusted kids is for married couples to make their relationship a priority. (Single parents have their own challenges). The traditional Jewish ideal of shelom bayit backs up the idea that a marriage based on mutual love and respect is the foundation for creating a spiritually enriching home for your children.

In other words, hire a babysitter or bribe the grandparents to give you and your spouse a break from the young ones now and then. Whether you catch a movie, peddle your bikes in the park, or recover the lost art of conversation, spouses need to reconnect with each other in order to be better parents.

In all honesty, I admire couples who actually stick to their commitment to spend time together, even when their children’s itineraries drag them in opposite directions sometimes. And until I figure out how to actually do that, I suggest another way for moms to maintain domestic bliss. Only my idea doesn’t involve my husband or my kids. First, I pack a suitcase. Next, I kiss everyone goodbye. Finally, I get out of town, even if only for a few days. That’s right—I leave Jack and Sari with their daddy to bond while I relax and rejuvenate somewhere, anywhere. I rationalize that my husband Scott gets to go to work everyday, so my little getaway is only fair. Maybe, just maybe, when I do return home, my family might better understand what I accomplish in an average summer day, including more laundry, meal preparation, playdate coordination, endless errands, fistfight patrol ,and dog vomit cleanup. Even if they still don’t appreciate what I do as a mom, who cares. At least I got away, right?

I was lucky enough to get out of Dodge earlier this month when I went horseback riding in Colorado with a handful of adventurous moms, who call ourselves Wild Women of the West or WWW. I truly get away from it all as I climb 10,000 feet up the Rocky Mountains on a horse named Itchy. There’s no doubt that I’m far from home when our cocky trail guide, a rugged, leather-faced cowboy, introduces himself in a slow, southern drawl. “I’m Stu, and that ‘aint short for stupid.” His bushy mustache is stained from a lifetime of harsh sunlight and cigarettes.

In the rear of the line is our long-time friend Doug MacGregor, a retired businessman turned cowboy, who lives in Denver and prides himself in coordinating every muddy clop of this unforgettable adventure. If ever my head is in the clouds, this is the time because I almost touch the gray sky that shadows the Continental Divide in the distance. Not even the light drizzle dampens our spirits on this journey, and we never stop laughing for long. In fact, I find it amusing when rain collects in the ridges of my brand new straw cowboy hat. Every time I lean forward in my saddle, water falls into my lap. Never mind that I’m forced to wear an oversized, torn, yellow slicker that covers my western attire, including a blue bandana tied in a knot around me neck. I take in the splendor of the snow-capped mountains and rows of dark green pine trees that go on forever.

At the end of the two and-a-half- hour ride, I eventually ungrip the reins and slide off my horse. That’s when I realize that I barely can walk to the car because I pulled a muscle somewhere along the way. Despite my severely stiff knees, I savor every moment around me, including a herd of elk roaming alongside the highway. I dine on the best gazpacho and deviled eggs that I’ve ever tasted. Thanks to the hospitality of Doug and his wife Claire, who open their home and their hearts to us, I never once feel guilty about leaving my clan behind on this trip. Well, maybe for a second, but I get over it when I drink another glass of wine.

I know deep in my heart that I deserve this time to myself, and everyone benefits when mom feels energized again. Besides, Scott and the kids enjoyed their own explorations while I was away. For starters, they built several forts, including a hut made of willow branches that still stands in the backyard. Every time I look at the tree limbs and wood scraps tied together with rope in the shape of a tee pee, I remember my special mountain experience. And I realize that I don’t have to travel very far to live an adventure.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to www.mishegasofmotherhood.com