Monday, June 28, 2010

NJ Moms Retrospect: Childless Vacation

Author's Note: Looking for another childless vacation and I still don't feel guilty.
May 18, 2009
Should I Feel Guilty For My Childless Vacation?
My name is Jennifer and I enjoyed my childless vacation. This is my story...
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to travel. Whether it be down the Jersey Shore for a lazy week at the beach or exploring the cobblestone streets of Florence, there hasn't been a vacation I've met that I haven't loved. Even the journeys with lots of mishaps and outright mayhem, like getting apprehended in Prague for riding the subway for free (so much for honoring the honor system) and breaking an antique bed in Block Island, have gained me some of my favorite and funniest memories. So when my son Benjamin came into this world, I made my husband promise me we wouldn't stop traveling with or without Ben.
My husband Wally has made good on his promise. In Ben's two short years of life, we've taken him to Maine, North Carolina and the Jersey Shore with little to no trouble. However, when it came time to book a trip to celebrate our 10th Anniversary Wally started to hedge on his promise. Feelings of guilt started to creep in and he suggested that we take a weekend trip to Vermont with our son instead of a romantic rendezvous in Italy. This mom, wife, anniversary celebrator and traveler was not okay with that suggestion. Instead of the joy I find in planning a vacation, I found myself crying big giant tears and asking my husband, "what happened to us? why are you making me feel guilty for wanting to go away alone with my you?"
After my impassioned plea, Wally took me to Vermont without Ben where we rode in a field of freshly fallen snow in a one-horse open sleigh and ate decadent Vermont-made cheeses by candlelight. Before we left Benjamin for his first overnight at his grandparents, I got to feeling "the guilts." Was Wally the better parent because he wanted to bring Benjamin on our romantic getaway? Should I feel guilty for wanting to go away without my son? To be honest, a little bit of me felt like I was a bad mom for leaving my son for the night to have an indulgent weekend with my husband but mostly I felt okay about our decision. Is that wrong?
Flash forward a few months later, Wally suggests we have a proper anniversary trip one that lasts more than a couple days, and without hesitation I say yes. While planning again, I catch myself thinking, "should I feel guilty for wanting to vacation without my son?" But, the guilt isn't present. Even when friends and colleagues give me the standard line when I mention the childless trip, "oh, you're not bringing Ben." Translation: "oh, you're one of those mothers." Maybe that is paranoia or maybe that is actual guilt but my answer is always, "yes and we'll miss him but I can't wait!"
During my six days in paradise, I cried when I left my son (it would be my longest time away from him); I thought about him every single day; I talked about him a lot finding myself saying, "Wally wouldn't Ben just love this? We really need to bring him here"; and I missed him like crazy. However, I also didn't cry the whole time I was away; I didn't think of him every single moment of every single day; I didn't talk about him all the time; and I didn't feel guilty about it. Maybe you think I am selfish or a terrible mom for these things but the person that matters most got a mom back after those six days that was rested and over-the-moon with happiness to see him. Yes, Ben got a better mom in the end and, to me, there is no reason to feel guilty about that. Isn't that what vacationing is about?
This is an original post for New Jersey Moms Blog. You can also find Jennifer writing about other guilty and non-guilty things at The Kamienski Chronicles.

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