Don’t get me wrong, I have albums filled with fun family vacations with my three kids.
We’ve spent many a June week collecting sea shells and floating on giant-sized dolphin rafts in the ocean at Sanibel Island. We’ve celebrated the winter break riding street cars in San Francisco clutching Ghirardelli ice cream cones. And we’ve traveled to Washington D. C. and stood outside the gates of the White House waiting for the president’s chopper to land on the South Lawn.
These “vacations," while fun, were a lot of work for me, and they have not gotten any easier as my kids reached their teens. A recent one we took, a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas, introduced my kids to ports of call where teens under 18 can legally drink. My son made friends in the “teen” lounge and charged more than $250 in drinks to the "house" (that's be me) on his first night. Then there was the trip to Hotel Del in Coronado, where my kids weren't the least bit interested in the teen activities. Maybe there are some teens who want to participate in orchestrated activities with a guide, but the resort day camp concept (wth its built-in time-outs for parents) seems to be a thing of the past for my kids.
Which leads me to the current adventure I long for: a mom-cation. In my dreams, I imagine myself riding a bicycle from inn to inn in Ireland, showing up at small cottages in search of my ancestors. Or lying on a beach reading tons of books – alone with only my waters being billed to the tab. On one particularly challenging day, I even thought about making a detour off the high way en route to work and boarding the next plane at O’Hare for an undisclosed location.
It turns out my fantasy of a mom-cation is a popular one for many Circle of Moms members. Some moms, like Amy, have actually put the gears into motion. “I have already booked an all-inclusive vacation to Cancun,” she says, adding that she is leaving her 16-year-old daughter who “acts like she hates me all the time,” home with her ex-husband and his wife.
Her decision is receiving lots of support from other Circle of Moms members like Brittany B., who declares: “vacations away from [your] children (teens) will make you a better mom.” Julie P. also advises the teen-left-at-home vacation plan: “If a teen is misbehaving you should leave her alone with a caregiver. Otherwise, she will use your desire to enjoy the vacation as a free pass to act like a fool, knowing you will not want to ruin the entire trip [by disciplining her]."
As a mom of tweens ages eight and 10, Jen C. talks about her own plans for a vacation sans kids. “I am a single mom who spends every second with my children,” she says. “We took a vacation last October to the (Wisconsin) Dells, but it was nothing but kid time. It was fantastic, but now I feel I need a vacation from the vacation.”
But the reality is that leaving teens out of your vacation plans can be logistically difficult. Who’s going to “baby sit?” How do you afford it with college on the way? And while toddlers might forget that you left them home alone with Grandma, a teen will remind you over and over again how you left them behind.
So, for now, with two of my kids in college, my dreams for traveling solo remain in a holding pattern, somewhere between Guilt and Economically Infeasible.
To borrow from Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you’ll go,” is a dream I hold closely, but with a little twist: alone!
Have you been on a Mom-cation without your teens?
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