We Are Both Right

A Vacation Without Kids Sounds Great! (Sniff) (Sniff) Really!

© rogewainer/stock.xchng

© rogewainer/stock.xchng

Forget disagreeing with Suzanne, when it comes to vacationing without the kids, I’m at odds with myself.

My base reaction? It’s a great idea. I’m all for it. In fact, I’ve gone away on vacation quite a few times without them and had a wonderful time. In the decade that we’ve become parents, T. and I have visited Las Vegas, gone on a cruise with friends, stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast while we took a cooking class and gone on a heavenly four-day trip to a beach to Jamaica where we spent our days doing nothing but sitting. All activities that our kids would want nothing to do with, I’m sure.

Each time I come back relaxed and recharged and happy. I shout less and I am definitely more patient and understanding.

And I love having time alone with my husband. We have complete conversations (yes, about the kids, but still), eat meals without being interrupted and just be together. We can do whatever we like — long car rides, sitting on the beach, coexist in silence — it’s heavenly.

So what’s to feel conflicted about?

Oh the guilt. I swear, there is a Jewish grandmother lurking inside of me somewhere.

In the days leading up to our trip, I just feel so bad. Guilty about leaving them while we are off going someplace fun, guilty about leaving them in general. What if something happens while we are gone? What if they miss us? What if we miss them?

Obviously we do a lot of advance planning. So far, each time that T. and I have gone away, they’ve been cared for by one set of grandparents or the other, either at our house or at one of theirs. Before we leave, I spend countless hours preparing a book of information about each child, their routines, their medical histories, their likes, their dislikes, and fun places they might like to go. I fill the fridge with meal and food and I make sure that every article of clothing that they own is washed, folded and put away. I anticipate any need or want they might have while I’m not there and try to take care of it, or at least provide instructions on how someone else could take care of it.

Basically I parent for the days we are gone ahead of time.

Thankfully, the second I step in the airport, my guilt dissipates. You know what is a vacation for parents in and of itself? Flying without your kids. Trust me.  And as someone who is always so incredibly sad when vacation is over (OK fine, I cry), nothing lifts my spirits more than knowing my kids are waiting for us when we get home.

And the kids? As far as I can tell, they could care less that we are gone. They miss us of course, but when you are spending your days with your grandparents and not your shrill of a mother, well that’s a vacation too.

Basically, we all end up just fine on the other side.

Have you ever vacationed without your kids? Suzanne has. But not without consulting her lawyer first. So happy to have a friend as neurotic as me!

*******************************

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.