My children are staying with their grandparents this week and you’ll forgive me this small confession: I’m thrilled.

I have a very transparent and at times eye-roll-inducing sentimentality  for my children.  They really have brought a level of fulfillment in my life I never thought was possible.  The first time I spent even a weekend away from my eldest, I was a bundle of nerves.  He was fine, of course.  When we dropped him off, we fell to chatting with my in-laws and he came into the room where we were talking and said, “aren’t you gone yet?”  He was three and already breaking my heart.

I enjoyed my time away, but also couldn’t help but worry that he would wake in the middle of the night and want his parents.  I was ridden with parental guilt.  In the end, he had a ton of fun and my heart was mended when we picked him up and he ran into my arms and gave me a big hug.

Since then, we’ve been away from both of our boys several times, and I have become less and less obsessive each time.  I haven’t even had to stop myself from picking up the phone to call them this week, and that is the very definition of progress. Moreover, I enjoy my time away from them because it is an opportunity for my wife and I to step out of roles as parents and into our roles as husband and wife, a territory which has the potential to become foreign if we don’t take time periodically to explore it.

Most importantly, being away from the boys helps me appreciate them more. No good parent will doubt the many joys of parenting, but there is a bundle of drudgery to go along with it. It’s a tedium wrapped up in a jumble of laundry, homework, tantrums, rivalry, attitude — I needn’t continue the lengthy list.  But all of that washes away when, after a week of absence, tiny arms wrap around my neck, and small voices call me “Daddy.”

Today, I am thankful for what I have come to term “kidcations” and for the people who make them possible.