I’m not going to lie. I thought I’d feel like the cat who ate the canary on the first night I spent away from my infant twins. But, like every other part of parenting, the reality was much more complex.
I’d had a short business trip to Las Vegas on my October calendar since even before my twins were born in July, and of course many times I wondered whether it would be logistically possible to leave them for two nights just as they turned 12 weeks old. But, with a lot of help lined up for my husband in my absence, we were making it happen.
As I got ready to leave for the airport for an annual trip that had seemed so ordinary in past years, I was acutely aware how different things were now. First of all, my carry-on bag seemed impossibly small, and I felt so nimble packing it alone. No diaper bag, no car seats, no double-long stroller. With twins, we are hardly streamlined anymore.
While I’ve stayed fairly true to my pre-baby promise to myself that I wouldn’t feel guilt over non-guilt-worthy things (like, for instance, working), it was emotional kissing the babies goodbye, of course. In these early months, they’re at an age when they look different literally every day—with new developments popping up practically each time I pick them up. So what might I miss in 60 hours out of town?
Beyond that, there was some guilt that my husband alone would have to take on such an enormous handful—two hands full, really—while I was gone. But we had help, both of the family and paid varieties, and he’d be fine. (Plus, we both knew he was paying it forward—he had his own business trip on the calendar for the following month after all.)
So when I got in the taxi, my eyes watered. I’d miss my sweet precious nuggets, smiling now all the time. And I’d miss their amazing dad, without whom nothing in my life would be possible or joyful.
But it felt good to be back at LAX for the first time since I got too pregnant to fly, way back in April. Months away from airports was a tough conceit for a travel-obsesed person, and even the security line, generally such a chore, felt like a little thrill.
In fact, everything felt like a little thrill those days in Las Vegas, even though it was work, and even though I’ve been there a thousand times. It just felt so free to walk at my own pace, and to draw the blackout shades, and to sleep soundly, and to do so in a suite to myself uncluttered with swings and play mats and a bunch of stuff that plays the digitized lullabies that I find actually kind of maddening.
And it felt like a triumph in many ways: a triumph over logistical hurdles, yes, but also proof that I can carry on toward professional and personal projects and achievements as an individual apart from my kids, all while I lovingly mother them. I want to set this example for them, as much as I want it to be my own reality.
But it also felt lonesome. I just made these two little humans mere months ago, but I’m already incomplete without them, and I’m incomplete without their dad, my perfect pair. We’re a unit, a team, with an unbreakable bond forever, all of us. So while time away from the cacophony of infants is a special treat—a few hands-off moments to exhale during such a focused, hands-on time in life—it’s also a reminder of how full life is when we’re all together. Quietude is best enjoyed as a contrast to joyful noise. (And yes, you can imagine the noise in this house now, if Las Vegas seems quiet.)
Given my life as a writer and reporter who frequently finds assignments out of town, and given my devotion to travel, I expect I’ll experience many nights to come away from the kids. And I’ll be glad for that time.
But in the end, home is where family is. And the joy in being away is only possible because I can come home to these three—my heart and soul.
This post about travel without baby originally appeared on Parents.com.