The grandparents were thoroughly debriefed. My bags were packed. I was going on a trip... without my children.
And as I was flying to Vermont to meet my husband, I had a startling realization.
I like traveling.
I am a very fun person to travel with. I don't whine at all or lick seat belts or stare unabashedly at the other passengers on the airplane. I just sit there and read a book and drink a little wine and mind my own business. Well, at least I try. I did get sucked into admiring pictures of my neighbor's friend's cousin's dog on her phone for about 30 minutes. To be fair, it was a cute dog. Sometimes I'm a little too friendly and people think I care way more than I actually do.
It has been about seven years since I have been on an airplane without a child -- and these are the things that I found to be awesome about leaving my little darlings behind.
1. Going to the bathroom. I almost feel like I don't need to say anything more about this, but I'm going to anyway. I realized, while traveling by myself, that I am a normal human-sized ambulatory person who can fit nicely in a regular stall. This is because I'm not hauling 12 bags balanced on a stroller or trying to convince a blue-eyed version of myself that peeing really is something that humans have to do once in a while.
2. And... the automatic flusher on the toilet did not scare me or anyone else who was in the bathroom stall with me, making it a much more relaxing experience.
3. The stuff I did not have to bring on the airplane with me, i.e. extra underpants, carseats, games, DVD player, movies, this week's special blankets and stuffed animals and an entire carry-on filled just with patience.
4. The people I sat next to on the plane did not make the sign of the cross when they saw me coming.
5. The magazines. The wine. And the napping. My own napping. Not the napping that I desperately work my entire day trying to achieve in some other person.
6. The people-watching. There are a whole lot of fascinating humans to observe when you aren't concerned about keeping someone else alive while exiting the moving sidewalk.
7. Bodily functions. Again. Surprisingly easy to keep track of, when they are just your own. And I did not have to say the word "potty" even once.
8. The startling amount of selfish glee I got from watching other parents while they struggled to get their young children to act normal. While watching some new parents attempt to convince their oddly strong toddler not to kick the seat in front of him, all I could think was, Good luck, Suckers!
9. I never once had to apologize for my lack of social skills. Like, "Sorry. I guess I'm just feeling shy today. That's why I am staring at you with a blank look on my face while you ask me my name."
10. And finally, without my cute sidekicks, I was basically invisible. I am a bit of an introvert, so this was awesome. Nobody asked me what grade I was in or if I liked my teacher. Nobody asked me if this was my first plane ride or if I felt like a big girl for having my own seat. And, best of all, not one person tried to play peek-a-boo with me between the spaces of the seats.
A version of this post originally appeared on Running With Mountain Lions.