Do You Have To Spend Vacation With Your Kids?

The Oregon Coast is not ugly.

Family takes resort vacation. Parents drop kids off at (resort provided) Kids' Club. Kids play with other kids. Parents get massages and take naps.

But is everyone really happy?

One woman says, no. Earlier this week, Laine White, a writer at Your Tango, pissed off a bunch of parents with her article, "Yes, I Judge Parents Who Dump Kids At Hotel 'Kids Clubs' During Family Vacations." Laine, who recently took a vacation with her pre-teen son, apparently likes to languish all day in the presence of her beloved child. The incessant prodding "What are we doing next?" is no match for Laine. Why wouldn't any parent want to hear "I'm BORED!" 17 times an hour for a week? After seeing all of the abandoned children of the Kids' Club, Laine mused:

"There were so many kids in the hotel kid club; I couldn't count them all. I wondered what their parents were doing: A quiet lunch? Massage? Parasailing? Afternoon delight? Getting drunk? 

Whatever they were doing, I decided they sucked immediately."

Laine loves her kid. She loves him so much, that even one vacation day away from him is unimaginable. I think that's awesome.

It sounds like Laine has a pretty busy professional life ("My son has his fair share of sitters when I have work events or can't drive him to baseball practice because I'm stuck at the office."). I can't say I blame her for wanting to hang out with her son. 

I also have a very busy professional life.

I also just went to Portland for six days and didn't even miss my kids a little until day four.

(There was pastry.)

 baked goods. I ate them.

Me being away from them in a beautiful beach house isn't the same as a resort with a built-in babysitter, but being away from your kids is being away from your kids. I can say, pretty confidently, were I given an opportunity to let my kids spend a day with a bunch of other kids engaging in pre-planned activities that I didn't have to plan, I would jump on the 'Take My Kid Train' SO FAST, you wouldn't even know it wasn't mandatory. 

GIVE. BE PRESENT. Do it ALL. Are you miserable? GREAT! 

I didn't used to be that way. When my three (now) big kids were little kids, I didn't even so much as go away for a few hours (except to give birth) for several years. Away for a day or more? Forget it. I was damned and determined to be the Very Best Mother Ever, which means being available and operating at 110%, 110% of the time. 

That's a lie. 

Part of the suffer culture we live in (I don't think I made that up, but just in case, TM, copyright), yells at us: GIVE. BE PRESENT. Do it ALL. Are you miserable? GREAT! 

That's the same part of our culture that makes us feel like shit when we leave the kids at the Kids' Club for four hours while we get a massage, have sex with our partner, and take a long, naked nap.

Suffer culture screams, "You are FAILING!"

Then someone like Laine writes about how selfish we are, and if we didn't already feel lousy, we sure do now. 

The thing is, I don't think that being with my kids every available minute made me any better of a parent. In fact, it might have made me a worse parent. A mother who has no sense of self, no time to recharge, no awareness of herself as a human being outside of her identity as a mother, is not a better mother than one who recognizes that she has very real, very important needs to nurture herself. Now that I have five kids, and some real hardcore mothering under my belt, I can acknowledge that I need time, too. And that time does not make me a bad parent, it makes me an honest one. 

I need a break from my kids. 

Powell's book store. Portland. This is not my kids' idea of a vacation.

You can take a vacation without your kids and still be an amazing, loving, devoted parent.

You can go to a bookstore and walk around alone for two hours or stop at every pastry shop on the street and have a croissant. You can sleep in or not sleep at all (though I'd recommend the former). You can be away from your kids for several hours to several days. You don't have to feel lost without your children or miss them to the point of paralysis to be a good, even a great, mother. 

I don't think that Laine has to feel that way. But I want you to know you CAN. 

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