Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Mom Vacation

I know, I am probably preaching to the choir here, but I am going to make the statement anyway: all moms need a vacation every now and then. I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home mom, a work-away-from-home mom, or some combination of all of the above: you need to get away for a while. Why? Well aside from the obvious (you’ll get to sleep in, you’ll have fun, you probably won’t be asked to change any diapers), you’ll return recharged and reinvigorated. And if you can do it with your girlfriends, even better.

I know what I am talking about here. This past weekend, I spent two days in Los Cabos with 12 girlfriends. A friend of mine is turning 40, and for her birthday present, her husband rented a fabulous villa at Pedregal and told her to invite some friends to come celebrate with her (thank you Bob and Jenn!). So on Friday morning we all met at SFO and started our weekend of fun. Twelve of us were moms with kids ranging in age from seven months to nine years old. We spent the weekend talking, eating, drinking, getting massages, and lounging by the pool. And that’s it. There was no agenda. There were no schedules. You know what else there was none of? Here’s a brief list:

1. no diaper changing

2. no cutting up anyone’s food

3. no tantrums

4. no whining

5. no negotiations at mealtimes

6. no throwing of food from high chairs/boosters/stokke chairs

7. no arguing over toys

8. no begging anyone to get dressed/get undressed/get in the stroller/(insert mind-numbing activity here)

9. no biting/hair pulling/pinching/pushing

10. no middle-of-the-night wake ups

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but you get the picture. And do you know what’s good about traveling with other moms? They automatically know what needs to be done, and they do it without being asked. When I woke up in the morning, someone had already started coffee and set out the pastries. Another mom was getting started on making eggs for everyone. When meals were done, someone would clean the dishes, load, and actually run the dishwasher! When the beach towels started to pile up around the pool, someone gathered them, neatly folded them, and put them aside. And no one needed to be asked to do it -- it was like each of us had 12 wives! If you can look past the misogyny, you can begin to wonder if perhaps those polygamists were on to something! (Please, don’t flame me – I was only joking).

But the best part of the weekend was the time spent just talking with my friends. We reminisced about old times, shared stories about our kids, dished about our husbands, cackled about sex, and empathized about deranged in-laws. Connecting with girlfriends is such an important part of a woman’s life. Hell, Sex in the City was a show entirely built around that premise. I would posit that as we hit our mid-30s and 40s, and get more deeply involved in work and family, we need these connections even more. I mean, think about the rise of “mommy blogging” – it’s another way for us to connect with other women in a technologically advanced and often isolating world. Sometimes you just need the support of your girlfriends; there are times when your friends can empathize and understand you in ways that your husband or partner can’t.

And because I had such a wonderful time, when I returned on Sunday evening, I was happy to be home. My get-away was just 48 hours, but it was enough to fill up my “mommy gas tank” with patience, stamina, and goodwill. It’s now Wednesday, and I still feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I don’t know how long the “afterglow” will last, but while it remains I find myself much less irritable and much more pleasant. I have now gone three days without wanting to jab a sharp stick into my eye or step into rush hour traffic. Dare I say it: I’ve come back a better mommy and wife.

And so, I feel the need to preach the gospel of the “mom vacation.” It’s something we should all get to do once in a while. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get away – you just need to get away. Even if you spend a single night at your local airport hotel, it’s a night away from all of your responsibilities. And trying to find the time amidst the kids’ schedules isn’t an excuse. Two of the moms on my trip have children with severe disabilities that require seven-day-a-week therapies. No one needed to get away more than these moms. And you know what? They figured out how to do it (without having to hire extra help – the husbands stepped up). Your family won’t go into a tailspin if you leave for a day or two. Just grab a girlfriend, go away for a night, bring some trashy magazines, and you’re good to go. Enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

Adapted from original post at Silicon Valley Moms Blog

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