We Are Both Right

Mommy and Daddy Will Be Right Back — From Vacation

It took a while for me to be convinced that going on a parents-only vacation was a good idea. Seven and a half years to be exact. Plus some arm-twisting. And a visit with an attorney.

Yes, this is the same mom who has brought her children to day care since they were newborns. I can justify being away from them for work. To leave them behind so I can go on vacation, purely for my own enjoyment and indulgence — nope, that’s just plain selfish.

Or so I thought.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have always valued spending quality time with my husband. Going on a couples-only vacation is a glorious idea. Uninterrupted conversations. Eating wherever and whenever we want without considering the 8 o’clock witching hour and spills on white tablecloths. Wandering through a museum at our own pace. Sitting on a beach without chasing after Crocs being pulled out by the tide.

And then my mind would jump right to thoughts of my kids wondering why mommy and daddy have been gone for so long. I didn’t want to have to explain that we were ditching them for a weekend. I didn’t want them to miss the fun things we would do while exploring a new city.

I felt guilty — so guilty that I allowed the idea of a fun vacation with my husband to be cancelled out by the imagined disappointment of my children.

This had been tugging and pulling at me for years, until last December my husband made the decision for us. We were going away for a long weekend. Without the kids. By plane. Hours away. His surprise Christmas present to me. Non-refundable.

Behind my smile, my breath was caught in my throat. My mind was racing. We needed to make an appointment with an attorney. Sad to say, but that was my first thought — before thinking about what I would pack, where would be staying, when were we going.

I couldn’t get excited about the trip until we had each signed a Last Will and Testament, appointing guardians for our children. It’s something we should have done seven years earlier, but the thought of both of us getting on the same plane without them finally got me to the point where I had to make the difficult decision about who would care for our children in our (permanent) absence.

And then I joined the ranks of parents who go on vacation without children — and actually have fun. The kids didn’t seem to mind the idea of staying at grandma and grandpa’s house for a few days. We promised to bring home gifts, and call every day (and night).

©Fran Marie I. Flores/stock.xchng

The trip itself was great — and I expected nothing less. It was also nice to discover that my husband and I were naturally in sync about the balance between missing the kids and finding something else to talk about. We enjoyed a self-guided tour of historic homes; lingered over twenty-five cent martinis during a two-hour lunch; and stayed out late taking in the nightlife. In between were calls made to the kids, and talking about how we’d love to return with them to enjoy some of the area’s family-oriented activities.

The experience was so great in fact that we’re doing it again this winter. It’s about to be booked — a parents-only vacation to a warm beach destination with another couple who have buried enough of their guilt to leave their children for a few days.

Now if I could just come up with a good answer for my son who keeps asking: “Can I go wherever you’re going?”

Amanda’s always been right about the benefits of parents-only vacations — I just wish I had listened sooner.

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