It's not something most Circle of Moms members (myself included) want to announce to the world, (or admit publically), but imagine a summer escape to the beach, book in hand, waves lapping, massage scheduled post pool...and no kids. It's not that I or my Circle of Mom peers don't also cherish the idea of traipsing around The Magic Kingdom with tired, whining kids, or dolling out cash at the go-cart racetrack because "there's nothing to do" in Door County. But I wonder if Jen C. isn't speaking a Universal Truth of Motherhood when she shares "I needed a vacation FROM my vacation," after she returned home from a trek to the Wisconsin Dells last year with her two kids, ages 6 and 8.
Jen C. says the experience provided the impetus for her to create her own great escape: a trip to Europe without her clan, "ALONE!" She admits, "I am kind of torn and feel guilty because I feel I do indeed deserve this, but at the same time I haven't spent more than a few nights away from my kids at a time, and we've always been in the same town." She adds that "I am a single mom who spends every second with my children. Do I deserve it or am I being selfish?"
Well, I'll pipe up in defense of the assertion that all moms deserve some time alone to refresh and rejuvenate, but I also confess that while I harbor the same longing as Jen, so far it is just a fantasy for me. I can dream up numerous scenarios and exotic locales -- cycling through the Irish countryside, a spa weekend in Sonoma, writing the great novel from a mountainside cabin at Sundance. But what always kills these imaginary wanderings is guilt: my own and the anticipated protests of my offspring. "But mom, we want to go to the resort with you." Or, "We don't want to bicycle, but we want to go to Ireland too." And so I cave in and off we scurry off to the world of family vacations: resort land, with room service, snacks, and myriad surprise charges on the checkout bill.
Apparently I'm not alone. Many Circle of Moms members report that their own guilt is compounded by what their families lay on. As Danielle shares, "Every year my husband and some friends and family take a motorcycle trip for a week. I am happy he gets to take a break because he deserves it, he works hard for our family and I appreciate all he does for us. But I really would love if I could take a vacation, even if it was a weekend. But when it comes to me taking a vacation he always say ‘oh well if you take a vacation who will watch the kids?"
How to Leave the Guilt at Home
This year, I'm going to try to listen more to what some Circle of Moms members suggest, and that is to can the guilt and get up and go. "I'm a single mom as well and I know how moms feel, but I try to take at least one vacation a year without my kids," says Alicia R. "They have me 365 days a year. One week or one day never hurt anybody. Leave the guilt at home."
Vacations without kids will actually make us better moms, insist many Brittany B. And Jessica points out that, "Everyone needs a break. A mom who takes her kids on a holiday is still working. Leave them with someone you trust and have a great time, I've done it a few times now, I try to go away every few years."
Another mom, Amy O., believes that families pay a price when moms habitually put themselves last. "Yes, it is important to have family time/vacations, and couple time, and it is just as important to have "me time. Please don't neglect yourself."
Good advice Amy. Today, I'm taking a baby step, and heading off on a day-long boating trip with some friends. It's a start, but as I'm packing my beach bag, my three kids who are headed out to their father's family lake house for the day, keep asking me, "Mom. Why don't you wait till next weekend and we can go too?"
Ah, the Sonoma spa... you're next!
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