I remember so much about my first year with Stella. I remember the way she looked at me when I fed her, making faces at her while I changed her diaper, laying on the floor beside her cheering her on as she learned to crawl, sitting with her for hours as she played with her favorite toy, and I’ll never forget her first effort in trying to talk when she said, “agoo”. I loved oohing and ahhing over her. I loved to just sit and study her facial expressions. I will forever treasure that time.
She was 15 months old when I found out I was pregnant with her TWIN brothers. Oh how I will never ever forget that day. I have never been so scared in my entire life. Brian and I went to the gynecologist fully expecting to see one little baby on the ultrasound and to our complete shock, there were two. I cried so many tears that day because I knew the oohing and ahhing that I had hoped to have again with my second child wasn’t going to happen and I was right.
A typical morning would go like this:
Perry wakes up
Zeke wakes up
Change Perry’s diaper
Change Zeke’s diaper
Put Perry on his tummy time mat to play
Put Zeke on his tummy time mat to play
Change Perry’s diaper
Change Zeke’s diaper
Rock Perry put him down for a nap
Rock Zeke put him down for a nap
There was no time to ooh and ahh. There was no time to just sit and study their facial expressions. Two seconds after I’d pick up Perry, Zeke would want to be held too. I missed having those few minutes of just staring and playing with them individually.
My sister died when I was three years old, so even though I’m a second-born child, I was raised most of my life as an only child. I had a wonderful childhood, amazing parents. My voice was always heard. My parents always listened to me. The combination of this along with a year of missing little moments with the boys made me realize something crucial.
I want my kids to grow up feeling heard. I want them to know they aren’t grouped together by Brian and me. I want them to know that individually they are loved for who THEY are. In September 2016, I sat down with Brian one afternoon and I said, “I feel like I’m missing it. I feel like I’m missing all the little things. I can’t hear Zeke when Perry is babbling so loud. I can’t fully stop and listen to Stella every time she says my name because one of the babies needs to be changed. I want to clone myself so each of them can have my undivided attention, our undivided attention.”
Of course I knew this was impossible, but we kept talking about it. We came up with a few ideas but for me, I wanted more than a few minutes, more than a couple hours. I wanted a weekend, a three day weekend, with each kid individually. I wanted time where I could truly soak up every single second with them.
Just as I wrote about on Boundaries for the Working Mom I said to Brian, “I think we need to take each kid out of town on a little mini-vacation because that way the focus is entirely on them and having fun. If we stay home, we’ll be preoccupied with laundry and dishes and all the things that come with home.”
So we decided to make it happen. Brian and I had planned to go to the Caribbean for our 11 year anniversary in December 2016, but instead, we decided to take that money and take each kid individually on a trip. Since we were taking money for one trip and now splitting it three ways, we decided each mini getaway would have to be within driving distance. We took Stella to Nashville in October, Zeke to Waco in November, and Perry to New Orleans in December. Brian and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and stayed one night in a beautiful hotel instead of the Caribbean vacation, but it was the best trade off we ever made.
In Nashville, Stella was able to hold both her mommy and daddy’s hands when we went on walks. She was able to tell us anything without being interrupted.
In Waco, Brian and I noticed just how much of an observer our sweet Zeke is and how, without the distraction of his siblings, he could stare and observe for hours. We also learned by the third day that Zeke missed his brother and sister. He’s much quieter when they aren’t around.
In New Orleans, we learned how much Perry LOVES being the only one! We heard his laugh all by itself and it is the best sound in the world.
As Brian and I were enjoying our anniversary dinner, we made a promise to each other that we would find a way to do this every single year with our kids. Not only did it fill us up as parents in ways I can’t begin to articulate in words, but I know without a doubt that Stella, Perry, and Zeke will grow up feeling truly treasured, individually.
The 2017 trips are going to start up soon (we are spacing them out a little better this year!) and here is where we are going:
Oxford, MS (Zeke)
We chose Oxford because we’ve always heard really great things about this town, but we’ve never been. We chose Zeke for this trip because we were told there is one of the best children’s book stores there and Zeke loves nothing more than a book. We thought it was only fitting!
Tulsa, OK (Stella)
We chose Tulsa for Stella because there is so much to do there including a zoo, an aquarium, a drive-in movie, great restaurants, and BONUS it’s a short drive!
Franklin, TN (Perry)
We had so much fun in Nashville last year that we want to go back and explore a couple of the little towns just outside of it. We chose Perry for this trip because he loves to sing, dance, and tap his foot to the beat of a good song.
Here are a few of my personal images from our one-on-one trips last year. You’ll notice a couple where we are on a double-decker bus. This is a tradition we do in every city (that offers it) because Brian (whose brain is completely different than mine, thank goodness) starts to really enjoy the trip once he has his bearings. He loves to see how the city is laid out. The kids think it is so much fun to ride on the top deck of a double decker bus. Me? I love the snuggle time I get with each kid sitting on my lap, watching them point at things, and listening to them as we ride. It’s a win-win-win and it’s the first thing we do when we arrive to any new place.