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MamaLA: Confessions of a Guilty Mama Part Two, Vacationing Without the Kids
As part of our ongoing series on mama guilt, let’s talk vacations sans kids. Oh man, our worries are already settling in. So is the fear that our fellow mamas are judging us for wanting time away from our children, which has less to do with our kids (whom we will miss like crazy) and more to do with the nonstop responsibility of being a parent. Sometimes you just need a reboot.
Phase one of The Getaway is figuring out what to do with the kids. You will not feel one ounce of relaxation if you haven’t lined up the best care. Oh, and we don’t just leave our little ones behind with anyone. We beg, borrow, and plead to make sure that we have the most loving, nurturing caregivers for our kids while we are gone, then we arrange special outings and playdates to pass the time in the most creative and fun ways.
For us, the least guilt-ridden option is family. Who better to give love to our kids in our absence than our parents? Not only do you get free babysitters, but you can lounge by the pool, margarita in one hand, a tabloid updating you on Jennifer Aniston’s pending nuptials in the other, thinking happily on the bonding taking place back home. Ideal option #2: aunts and uncles. Ideally they don’t have their own kids yet and are super stoked about getting some quality time with their nieces and nephews, or if they are parents themselves, they’re happy to get the cousins together. When Soraya and Mark have gone out of town, Auntie Yasmine (aka Yazzy), Auntie Ariana and Uncle Erik have all done varying degrees of babysitting. The kids love it and are often treated to a special toy store outing, a throwback to the days when Soraya and Yasmine’s Auntie Sultana would distract them with a new doll or doctor’s kit while their mom and dad were away. The final—and quite possibly best option—is a beloved nanny. There can be slightly more guilt with this route since he or she is not technically family (though your child would beg to differ), but you might feel better paying someone to wrangle your kids. If you are lucky enough to have a nanny as a regular part of your household, you also benefit from the fact that she knows your kid’s quirks; there’s no learning curve here. Caregiving sorted, check.
Damn, the guilt is back. Now it’s over the flutter of excitement we feel because we get a break! Adult conversation, lots of it. Or silence. Not cooking. Booking a massage. Ending the day and not saying “I’m too tired” when you slip into a fluffy bed, which does not have a crackling monitor next to it. When did life’s pleasures become a source of guilt? Since first hearing the words, “But why can’t we go, mommy?” leave your babe’s precious mouth. Phase two: suck it up and say goodbye. Yes, you’ll tear up in the car. You’ll sneak peeks at your iPhone pictures. You’ll notice the quiet car ride, or the ease of the airport. You’ll read (imagine that). You’ll eat without simultaneously doing something else. You’ll feel the freedom sink in and remark that you can’t remember the last time you felt this free. Then you’ll start missing them, wonder why you booked this trip for so many nights. You’ll try to not keep talking about them. These symptoms are normal.
We can’t ignore mentioning what we mamas sometimes call the dreaded “re-entry.” Upon returning from a relaxing vacation, we are truly excited to see our kids’ joyful faces and expect a blissful reunion—oftentimes wishful thinking. We have stepped out just enough to harken back to the days before we had kids (which translates to returning with maybe a tad less patience) but the ones waiting at home haven’t changed their expectations of us in the least. This can result in Calgon moments and a thirst for a much-needed, pre-5p.m. glass of wine. Go ahead, pour one and enjoy, guilt-free. It’s the last phase of the process.
With seven children ranging in age from six months to sixteen years between them, sisters and bloggers Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Soraya Delawari Dancsecs are experts at parenting in L.A. They take a break from PTA board meetings, cooking, and producing films to blog at CityThink each Thursday.