All marriages have “arrangements,” right?! Those small bargains that you make with your partner to stay sane and married.

Brew and I agreed when we became parents that as soon as I finished nursing we would allow each other two weeks a year to do WHATEVER. For Brew that means a combination of songwriting camp, hiking, bourbon tours, and monastery retreats. For me, it just means hiking.

This August I’m taking my yearly “hall pass” to hike 200+ miles on the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming. Let me clarify, unless Brew does something royally wrong between now and my departure date, this upcoming section hike is NOT an attempt to get away from my husband. Nor am I backpacking as a means of escaping motherly duties such as potty training accidents and trying desperately to uphold the integrity of naptime.

Honestly, the hardest part about leaving for two weeks is the sadness that comes with leaving Charley and the maternal guilt that I experience before, during, and after my absence. Yes even after we are reconnect the guilt remains. It didn’t help that last summer, upon a much-anticipated reunion with my daughter, she greeted me with a dirty look and then screamed for daddy.

I love my husband and daughter more than anything, but I don’t want either one of them to be completely codependent on me. And I don’t want to be codependent either. However, when you work with your spouse and have a toddler who is not in full-time daycare, or better yet when you spend 18 months with your family living out of a Prius, it is really hard to not be codependent, let alone independent!!!

For Brew and me, the entire point of the very monogamous hall pass is to remind us of who we are as individuals so that we can bring those unique gifts and talents into our marriage – and into parenting. Plus two weeks away can convince you that potty training accidents and nap time struggles are perhaps the best and sweetest challenges you could ever face.

I am looking forward to my hike this summer because I will get to do something I really love in a new a beautiful place. My time on the trail will allow me to look back and remember the life and miles that I experienced before family. And, like always, the quiet rhythmic act of walking will give me time to pray to God, time to listen, and time to just be.