The other day one of my very good friends asked me if I’d been catching up with the latest episodes of “House of Cards.” It was strange to admit it, but I couldn’t remember the last time I physically sat on my couch and simply relaxed in front of the television. Sure, I take 5-minute breathers here and there, but I honestly can’t recall the last time I laid down in bed, ate a tub of chocolate pistachio ice cream and simply binge watched some Netflix.
To my friend Christina though, it wasn’t strange at all. “You’re a mom,” she said, giving me that knowing look.
Several reports last year that said stay-at-home moms (or stay-at-home working moms, in my case) are worth a whopping $118,905 when you calculate the hours of work they do per week. Between the kids and their homework and activities, the cooking, the laundry, the dog getting sick and so on, I rarely have any time for myself.
In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I took a PTO day (“PTO day? What’s that?” is a question asked by millions of moms from around the world).
According to the Washington Post, the average American takes 16 days of paid leave per year, but somehow the “work” that comes with parenthood is yet to be valued by society.
And that’s when it occurred to me: I need a flippin’ momcation. Not a vacation, not an afternoon off to get a pedicure, but real time off away from my house, my family and my life.
But of course, the moment I thought about taking care of just myself, mom guilt and my work martyr complex automatically kicked in. Can my husband and kids survive without me for a few days? Or perhaps more accurately, can I survive letting go of them just so I can concentrate on myself for a few days?
The answer was a simple one. In other words, my momcation to Palm Springs was booked faster than you can say Meeska Mouska Mickey Mouse.
All of those feelings and worries seemed to disappear the moment I boarded my Delta flight for the West Coast because hey, I’ve been in this mix for seven years now and I need a break. Let’s face it, you and I and all the mamas in the world need a momcation to escape from our house full of dirty dishes, broken toys and crumbled goldfish in our handbags. But while I tried REALLY hard not to think about my kids while I was away, they were on my mind constantly. It’s true when they say you can leave, but never really check out.
Still, I’m not a human Duracell battery, and neither are you. And while I love traveling with my family, it’s like I’m taking my job on the road with them. All the packing, planning, and traveling I have to do for my small army of four wipes me out and no amount of caramel macchiatos from Starbucks can keep me going through the day.
During my momcation, I did things I could never do if I had my family with me. I read a book. I relaxed by the pool at the Parker Palm Springs resort. I booked an appointment at the spa and ate Duck Fat Fries all by myself. I drove a Subaru Legacy on cruise control through Joshua Tree National Park and didn’t have to worry about having to hear the Frozen soundtrack on repeat.
I recharged my mind and my soul under the California sun and just let me be “me.” My respite was crucial to my intense day-to-day schedule at home.
But I’m not going to lie about not feeling guilty about the trip. Being a mom is all about worrying about your family’s well-being around the clock. Heck, being a mother is the hardest job on the planet and if we don’t take care of ourselves, there’s little chance that anyone else will.
When I got back from my trip, my children were thrilled to pieces to see me. There was no long-term psychological damage done, the house was still intact, and my husband wasn’t traumatized from being “mom” for a few days.
The best part was that my little rejig helped motivate me to return home to things a little bit better and maybe a little bit differently. After all, isn’t that the feeling we all get after a good vacation?More On