I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Iceland and Europe - a long delayed birthday present and the first time I have been away from home on my own for... 11 years. That's a long time. In fact it's three lifetimes - i.e. the lives of my boys. It was fantastic. When asked if I missed my children I had to admit, "No. Not at all."
Some people may be shocked or offended or something by that but, you know what? Screw them. To have a sustained period of time without me having to makes lunches, do laundry, break up stupid fights about whether someone was looking at someone else "funny" etc. was enriching, rejuvenating and relaxing. When people take vacations do others ask them concernedly, "Gosh, do you miss work?" "Uh, duh, no - that's why I'm on vacation. Idiot." I didn't miss them because being away from them was what I desperately needed. I also took comfort in knowing that they really didn't miss me either. To you out there cooing and saying, "Of course, they did, silly." I say, Bullshit. Now my wife missed me - I know that. She talked about how hard it was and how tired she was... hmm. Not sure she missed ME either as much as the role I fulfill but, whatever, she greeted me at the airport with tears in her eyes, I'll choose to interpret that any way I want, thank you.
So, after arriving home and doling out the various gifts I had picked up on my travels we sat around and ate and I talked about some of what I did and saw on my trip. During a pause my middle child asked, "What else did you see?"
I talked about spending days by myself talking to no one and also about catching up with old friends over hours of conversation and city rambles. I talked about seeing where the two continental plates meet in Iceland and how the fact they pull away from each other at about 2 centimetres a year helps foster some of the crazy geothermal and volcanic activity on that island. I talked about seeing geysers and waterfalls and swimming in an electric blue lagoon full of naturally heated water with the steam billowing off it to disappear over the broken up lava rocks in the distance. I talked about the canals, beautiful buildings and leafy squares of Delft in the Netherlands. (I didn't mention all the beautiful women on the Dutch bikes enjoying the sunshine - although that was nice to see as well). I talked about listening to musicians in leiderhosen playing Oktoberfest songs in a Munich brauhaus as I clinked glasses with locals, being careful to look them in the eye. I also talked about hiking up a mountain in the stunning Bavarian countryside and gazing out over the fantastic landscape. It was great, right?
He looked at me, blinked and then clarified, "No, I meant, what else did you see in the gift shop?"
At that point I realized my holiday was truly over.