I am a guilt-ridden single mom. I’m not complaining about being single or being a mom. I just want you to know that usually, wherever I go with the kids, it’s just me and the kids. Like, I don’t have any helpers really, no other money being throw into the kitty aside from my own and unfortunately, no one there to say, “Don’t talk to your Mother that way!” It is what it is. It is life. It is work and it is usually not easy. I feel guilty when I can’t give them what married couples can give their children, like IDK…. attention… But, I still want them to experience life in such a way that one day, when they are old enough to understand, they can look back and say, “I had a great childhood that was full of adventure!”
So, I finally decided to take a vacation without the kids. Why? Well, each year I plan what is meant to be a wondrous, stress-free time at the beach with me and my two daughters, and each year by the end of the first day, I wish I had left them at home. When I say wish, I mean, the curse the sky and kick myself kind of wishing, that only comes after the guilt of wishing them away has passed.
Neither of them are spoiled brats. They haven’t always gotten what they wanted and we have lived more for experience than possessions their entire lives. So, of course, I always assumed they should be with me on vacations. Life is an adventure right!!?? I had step- children as well, who are grown now and it occurred to me recently, that since I was 20 years old, I have always vacationed with children. So, pretty much my entire adult life has been spent not really relaxing, even at designated relaxation destinations.
For the past two years in a row, I have taken my own children camping at the beach and to my dismay, they have been eager to go but reluctant to allow me any peace once we arrive. Two years in a row I have endured (through them), sun sickness due to refusal to put on sunscreen frequently because, “it feels gross”, complaints of bug bites when camping because, “bug spray stinks”, multiple showers per day (where I must assist due to age and possible campground creepers), no towels for me because I apparently didn’t bring enough for my teenager to have ten of her own to throw down in the sand and then still need one for a shower. This year in particular, my oldest daughter turned 18 while we were on vacation and informed me that babysitting her younger sister wasn’t her job and it was my problem. (I just wanted to go to the fruit stand alone without fear that she’d be kidnapped from the campground.)
Then there was the fact that my 18 year old wanted someone to take her home, a seven hour drive. And when I said, “NO!” She began to use social media to have someone driving that direction come and pick her up! Like a stranger…. So, if it wasn’t the younger child needing constant supervision and help with the simplest tasks, it was my older daughter being incomprehensibly obnoxious. Yeah, it ruined my vacation. No, I did not have a good time and NO, I do not feel like spending my money or my vacation time that way again.
Am I saying I won’t take my nine year old on another vacation because she needed supervision, regular feedings, somehow was always covered in sand which made applying sunscreen scratchy and felt gross which then led to screaming through the campground “It’s hurting me!” “Don’t touch me there!” (….sigh….pause for the thought of what other campers might have thought was going on….another pause because no one ever came to her assistance and the realization that this is the world we live in) No, I am saying that my big vacations this year and next, will include a house sitter, a babysitter, a dog sitter and me sitting on a beach with no children around AT ALL!
Have you ever gone back and asked your kids if they remember this or that from a vacation say from age eleven and younger? Have you ever been sorely disappointed to realize that they don’t even remember the vacation at all? You ever think maybe you should have left them somewhere safe and taken this ghost vacation yourself? I am sure traveling with some kids, and if you have the money and if you are a super-patient awesome parent feels like a vacation to a lot of people. But I feel like maybe it is asking too much for them to go EVERY year.
Selfish me…I feel like a vacation should be a vacation. I should return feeling rejuvenated and not like I still need a vacation. I am spending Christmas in Tortola. My youngest will go to her God Parents’ house, because they’d “LOVE to have her!!”… and my oldest…hopefully will have a job to go to.
I am spending spring break in Jamaica, also sans the kids. And I don’t plan on feeling one bit guilty about it.
Karen B. @clearlyiamdisturbed.com