Confession: my family goes on vacation without me…and I love it.

A few years ago, the Swiss theater troupe MoomenschanzΒ came to Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. Josh’s mom was really excited about this, and wanted to take all of us to a matinee performance. Although Josh and I weren’t thrilled about the idea (we’re not that into surreal mime), we agreed.

As we sat through the seemingly never-ending show, my daughter kept turning to me and grinning from ear to ear. I grinned back, glad that she was enjoying it, but fervently hoping that it would be over soon. Each time she looked over at me, her grins were wider, until they were almost wolf-life, and a little manic.

Finally the show ended. As we were walking out, I squeezed her hand. “What did you think?” I asked her.

“It was great!” she said simply. “What did you think?”

I paused. “Actually, I wasn’t a big fan,” I told her.

She laughed with relief. “Actually, I wasn’t, either!” she admitted.

“But you kept grinning at me!”

“No! You kept grinning at me!”

We burst out laughing as we realized what had happened. We were both focused on pretending that we liked it for the other person’s sake, when in reality we had loathed it equally.

Have you ever done this? Pretended to like something for a reason? I think we all do it at one time or another. But have you ever pretended to the point where it was painful?

I have. It was about skiing.

I never learned to ski as a kid. We lived in Berkeley, which is several hours away from any possibility of snow in the winter; plus, my family didn’t have a lot of money to spare, and skiing is an expensive sport.

As an adult, I didn’t mind not skiing. There are so many other things to do in the world; plus, I get supernaturally cold so snow is not a good environment for me. (This is a diplomatic way of saying that I #@&#@%! HATE skiing, the cold weather, and the snow).

But then I had kids.

All of a sudden it wasn’t all about me anymore.

I should also mention that my husband Josh is an incredible snowboarder.

So I bit the bullet, and we took our kids to the snow. The first time we went, I think the kids were 1 and 3. There were a lot of steps involved to make it happen, and it was expensive, and I was miserable but trying to pretend that I was having a fantastic time. My kids loved it, and I was SO happy that they did, but the trip was excruciatingly awful for me.

We went on a handful more ski/snow trips over the next few years. We always went with other families, and I always hoped that the allure of apres-ski would be enough to distract me from my abject discomfort, but whiskey and hot tubs just weren’t enough to ease the pain. I truly hated every second, while trying valiantly to pretend that the opposite was true. It was exhausting and horrible.

Finally we went on one ski trip that just broke something inside of me. During the drive home, I was so miserable and sad that I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I cried silently for at least an hour, trying not to let the kids see. But of course they knew. Finally my daughter said quietly, “Mommy, remember Moomenschanz?”

Of course I did.

From that point forward, Josh has taken the kids to the snow by himself. The three of them couldn’t be happier. The kids have loved learning to ski, then snowboard. They’ve gotten really good. They love it.Β And me? I love it, too. When their car pulls away from the house, the weekend stretches before me – a glittering expanse of golden time.

During these weekends, it is all about me. I see friends, sleep in, go to movies by myself. Sometimes I have popcorn or cereal for dinner. Sometimes I have wine and cheese. I am on vacation. And so is my family. We’re just not on vacation together.

A wise friend of mine recently pointed out that there is a difference between a family trip and a family vacation. The times we went to the snow together were trips. Now, my family goes on ski vacations. And I eat macarons in bed and binge-watch Scandal. And a great time is had by all.

In fact, sometimes Josh even leaves me an amenity gift. Here is what I found on the table yesterday after they left:

glenlivet

Has your family ever gone on vacation without you? Where did they go, and what did you do?

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Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    OMG this blog made my morning! I laughed so hard reading this because I could just “see” both scenarios you mentioned playing oh so vividly in my head!!!
    I am not yet a mom but THIS is something I can definitely keep in mind and understand that it’s ok to look at my future child and say, “How about this time you go with your daddy??..daddy LOVES those type of vacations!.”
    Turns and Looks at husband. “Right??…….hunny?”

    And to answer your question, iiiiiii have sent my family (father..mother..siblings) away PLENTY of times and it’s been most fulfilling just to lay around and not do a darn thing. Amen to that lol

    • Points Pixie says:

      Danielle – So glad you liked this post! For your future self – this has been one of the BEST realizations we’ve ever had. Seriously life-changing.

  2. I LOVE this post!! What wonderful, funny and heartfelt stories. I am glad that you get to enjoy the much-deserved “me” time. It’s funny how doing nothing can get us so excited, lol. πŸ™‚ And you have an awesome husband. How romantic of him to leave you such a beautifully decorated amenity gift! You’re very lucky indeed. Enjoy your lovely vacation! πŸ™‚

    • Points Pixie says:

      Jenny – Thank you!!! My husband is going to love your comment, as well. πŸ˜‰

      I am enjoying every last moment of the weekend. Heading out now to window shop and have coffee with a friend!

  3. In my family separate vacations are the norm. The men head up into the north woods of Ontario to go fishing. The women head to a NYC to go shopping and to see Broadway shows.

  4. Terrific post! While my kids are grown, when they were small we developed a routine that really worked for us. My husband would take the kids back east to see his mom, and I got some time at home to myself. Not every time, but often enough. It made the trip cheaper – we were not as into points collecting then πŸ˜‰ – and it eliminated some of the tension those trips had because I did not enjoy them at all. I loved the time to myself and I expect my MIL loved having her son and her grandkids to herself!

    Wasn’t a regular eader of your blog until I saw your interview as part of the March Madness contest, and now I’ve been enjoying it. I look forward to meeting you in Charlotte! I wonder if there are any good thrift stores there!

  5. Love it! Perhaps sometime while he is off w the kiddos, you could take a quick girls getaway trip to Hawaii! Shhh I promise not to tell

  6. Christine says:

    My children are almost 30 years old and I had numerous staycations while the rest of the family went elsewhere. In fact, I tell soon-to-be mommy and daddy’s that the best gift a husband can give a wife is for him to take the kid(s) out of the house for a couple of hours every now and then with the caveat that mommy is not to anything but pamper herself while they are gone. Even just a couple of hours at home alone is a wonderful re-charge for mom and its great bonding time for dad!

    • Totally agree! When the kids were small we had one night a week when my husband stayed home and dealt with dinner and I got a night off to take myself out for a bite to eat or to get a haircut or to shop without shlepping little ones along. Didn’t happen every week and often not for many weeks, but when we could make it happen, we did.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Christine – Yes to the re-charge!

  7. Laura W. says:

    I tried valiantly to become a cross-country skier because Mark is such an avid skier. Finally, after bashing myself black and blue on an icy course, I said Never Again but You Feel Free to Keep Skiing. No kids involved here , but the relationship was saved!

  8. JustSaying says:

    One year I sent my wife and older son off to Honduras on a church work camp for orphan girls. My younger son needed something to do so we went to Disney in Florida. It worked great for everyone. Now each summer my wife goes back to Virginia for a high school reunion…….I thought I should go to Europe on an LH FC trip to a classical music center solo but while I don’t get a no I certainly didn’t get a no……..and that’s in addiction to her getting a FC trip every summer to France, Lyon, Riviera, London, Normandy, etc……….So I must be pitching the idea the wrong way……….

  9. Yeah, so right now I’m struggling with an upcoming vacation with my wife our small and adult kids and her extended family. I simply don’t want to go to Florida with them and bake on the beach. I would rather stay home an putter. No stress and no cost. This really fits into the “trip” category and is definitely going to be work for me. I’ll do most of the 12 hours each way driving. I’ll be the primary for watching the kids as my wife will be “vacationing.”

    I was at a sales presentation with my wife a couple of years ago and the guy asks what do you think of when you think of vacations. My wife said something like “fun and relaxation.” I blurted it out “Stess!”

    She looked at me with sadness. She even said, I always thought we had fun on vacations. I suggested from her perspective it was fun. After all, who wouldn’t like being carted around by a chauffer, sleeping in while someone watches the kids and being treated to eating out.

    Me on the other hand worked as a chauffer, nanny and paid for all the dinners out. I’m even the DD for my wife. Vacation my ass.

    So I’m dreading this upcoming trip. Don’t really like my wife’s family and they are not crazy about me.

    I’m thinking about baling out but that would lead to a lifetime of regret and ugly looks from everyone.

    So I think I will lay out the “Bob’s vacation rules.”

    1. Driving is split 50/50
    2. I don’t have to spend time with your family
    3. It is my vacation, so if I want to go to the history museum, I’m going. Have fun at putt putt golf.
    4. Your adult kids don’t rule the nest
    5. I’m on vacation and thus you will be the mom to the kids 24/7
    6. Shut up. You talk too much and having nothing interesting to say.
    7. I decide what music plays on the radio or mostly I decide that talk radio rules
    8. Get your ass out of bed early because I’m going to the beach.
    9. I nap from 12 – 3 and won’t be baking in the sun.
    10. You spend too much money. quit it.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Bobbo – Sounds like you definitely need a vacation! πŸ˜‰ Seriously, I hope that your “vacation rules” do the trick and that this vacation is more than a trip. I’m sure you deserve it.

  10. I was so happy to find this article. I’m not the only one!!! My wife insists that we go to mexico or Jamaica each winter. Its always stressful and feels like a requirement, like something i have to do. All i want to do is stay home and do nothing! Silence and quiet for a while. A break from the normal stressful day to day routines. If I stay home though my wife will make me feel guilty for it… How can I get her to understand?

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