Last week I did one of the most irresponsible things I’ve ever done as a parent. I flew to Paris for a week—purely for fun—and left 3 children in their first full week of school without a parent at home.
My sister surprised me just a few weeks ago by inviting me to go to Paris—she had a business trip with free hotel, her husband had frequent flier miles, and she wanted to give me a 40th birthday present (7 years late!). The only wrinkle? Scott had a full week of business travel already scheduled.
So I said no. I didn’t see how it was possible.
But then I told my girls, and after saying, “Take us too!” they both said, “Mom, you have to go—we can take care of ourselves.” Call me crazy, but I actually believed them. I trust they won’t throw a wild party or break into the liquor cabinet or have sex with random boys while I’m gone. The only things I didn’t trust were their abilities to refrain from eating junk food and fighting with their brother.
Every single fellow mom I talked to said the same thing my girls did. “You have to go,” often with an offer to take my kids.
So I decided to take the plunge into complete selfishness and immerse myself in Paris for 7 glorious days without kids.
Because Ling’s swim team carpool picks her up at 4:45 a.m. every morning, it didn’t make sense to send her to someone else’s home. Helen, who lives across the street, agreed to take my son–I don’t trust him to go to bed on his own—plus this helped eliminate the girls on boy fighting.
Then Tara offered to stay at my house for the first 2 nights—she homeschools, her kids are portable. I made 2 meatloafs, 1 lasagne, and stocked up on frozen Chinese dumplings so she and Helen could feed all our families, and flew to Paris.
It was WONDERFUL! I walked over 30,000 steps each day exploring museums, sights, cafes and chocolate shops. I took a bike tour. I ate dinner at my normal bedtime—steak frites and sole and falafel. I had a croissant or pastry every morning. I talked until 2 a.m. with my sister as we lay in bed having a grown-up sleep-over. I shopped the Parisian marketplace with my cousin who’s lived there over 20 years.
To the annoyance of my family, communicating was hard, so I didn’t talk to my kids for almost the entire week. I emailed but only one child emailed back with a question about viola lessons and to both MIA parents:
Did either of you take my swimsuits off the drying rack and throw them in some dark corner? Cuz I can only find one, and it’s the one that’s been sitting in my drawer since last year.
While I was gone, my friends had significant conversations and prayer with my kids—lessons better heard from them than me. A blessing since apparently the most significant ways for teenage girls to grow in authentic faith is through being mentored by “aunties”—Mom’s friends who AREN’T Mom.
So all in all, it was worth it. Although I last wrote about being a vacation failure, turns out I’m only a vacationing mom failure.
C’est la vie!
You may also be interested in reading:
Wedded Bliss. . .And Misses. 19 years and counting
My Theology of Parenting or Why I Gave Up Being God
Mother’s Day Gifts, or Why I Never Get What I Want