Vacations And Motherhood

My world turned upside down as soon as I become a mother. No matter how many books I read or how much advice I received from friends who were already parents, nothing prepared me for what I'd feel once my baby was placed in my arms. That love?


My opinions, my views, my thoughts on everything shifted the day I became a mother.

I became a mother, and with that came a world of new responsibility. The life I knew before—going out for drinks every night with my friends, getting my hair done at my leisure, spending hours at the bookstore, weekly dinners out with my husband, watching movies in a theatre once a week, frequent vacations to sunny destinations where the only thing I had to care about was how many bikinis I was brining with me—those days were behind me.

A recent article written by a popular Canadian author was brought to my attention by Ali today and has caused some debate because the author left her 10 week old baby to go on vacation. I'm not a person who judges other people, especially moms, because I know there are many things I can be judged for too, and as a mother, I am all about supporting one another in our parenting decisions, whatever they may be. I do, however, feel strongly about the bond that is shared between a new baby and his or her mother, and to me, that means putting solo vacations on hold, at least for the first year.

I roll one way with the way I parent my children, and others roll the other way, and that's great. I know many moms that I respect and look up to who do things totally differently than me. They do things their way, I do things my way, and we do some things the same. It's all good.

I feel blessed to have a huge support system around me, from my parents, to my in-laws, to my grandparents. They are my children's caregivers, they're at every soccer game, and they are the faces we see around the dinner table several times a week. They help me take care of my house, and they're my "village." Being Greek is wonderful, not only for the food, or the family support, but because throughout the years it has shown me how much family is valued and respected. I know this is not unique to Greek people, not at all; but I do equate being Greek to strong family ties.

And with that, major guilt issues, of course.

I was on a plane before the age of one, and have been on countless family vacations with my parents. My mom left my sister and me for the first time when I was 18 years old (I swear there was no house party, mom!) and even then, she felt guilty. Which is probably where I get my guilt issues from. (I know, therapy, anyone?) I left my children on an over night trip when my youngest was two years old, and I felt terrible about it. Yes, my boys were fine, and yes, I ended up having fun, but going away without my children isn't somethinng I do frequently, and it's not something I would have considered before they were out of diapers.

I think it is healthy to go away a couple of times a year without the kids, and I DO, (I've been to Miami and NYC and Toronto this year without them) and I'm sure as my boys get older, I'll be able to go away for longer than three nights, but for now, this is what works for us.

Plus, I love family vacations that include my children. I want them to enjoy themeslves on the beach, swim with me in the ocean, explore new museums, and visit restaurants I love. We're a package deal! I feel that if I were to take too many vacations (different from business trips) without my children it would be selfish of me.

Yes, I believe a mother should be happy, relaxed, and have the ablity to get a away for an afternoon of shopping, dinners out, and mini-vacations, once in a while. We need to keep our sanity, after all!

But that first year of your baby's life? It goes by in the blink of an eye. Too quickly, if you ask me. I blinked, and my boys were no longer babies. I cherished those early days where even going for coffee without them hurt my heart.

To each her own in this wonderful world of motherhood... let's just remember that before we know it, our babies will be in university and off discovering the world on their own and well, that's a whole other blog post where I'm going to need a box of Kleenex to get through!
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the_popes_wife said...

I remember leaving my son, 1 1/2 at the time , while I went to Barbados with my Mom for 7 days... I had a great time, but will always remember my 1st night when my husband called. He held out the phone so I could hear my son singing songs to me from his bath. I've never cried so hard or felt so lost....even in Paradise!

vickilicious said...

I totally agree with you, Loulou. I couldn't leave and have not left my kids home to go on vacation on my own or with my husband when they were babies. The first time we left them (with grandma, of course) was when they were 6 and 4 for a weekend getaway to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Let me tell you, we were so tense and feeling awkward without the kids that we didn't relax and enjoy our little escape until late Saturday. Sunday afternoon we were already back home! Now, they're eleven and nine but still, I find it unfair to them to have fun without them!

Angella said...

Matthew and I didn't even go on a DATE until Graham was six months old. He was our first, but still. The first time we left the kids was when Emily, our youngest, was a year and a half, and it was hard.

the mama bird diaries said...

I have a very hard time leaving my kids. I wish it was easier bc I think it's really good for a marriage.

Elaine A. said...

I had to travel for work the first time when Ben was 6 months old. I did well until the first night and then I balled my eyes out. I left again when he was a year (I went to a bi-yearly furniture market) and Tim took video of him walking while I was gone. All this to say, you are right. It goes TOO fast...

Anonymous said...

I Totally agree with you. me an their dad have had this argument a few times about taking the kids on vacation too! But the thing i love about taking them is the memories i have of seeing their faces take in everything on vacation.....making those memories WITH them :)

Loukia said...

It does get easier the older the kids get, though! BlogHer this year for me wasn't hard at all - those three nights went by so very quickly!

Loukia said...

That must have been hard, Elaine. Each time I go away now, it is easier, because they are older, but still.

alimartell said...

Emily was just over 11 months when we left her the first time to ski with friends for a few days. I stressed, I missed her, I thought about how I didn't think she was going to be able to BE without me...and you know, while I was worrying, she was partying...having a great time. When she saw me again after two days she hadn't forgotten me (like I thought) and she was able to be without me (like I thought). She was fine.

After that it became a little easier to leave them. Now, I miss them when I'm not with them...but I enjoy my time away and I know they are enjoying their time too.

Avitable said...

I disagree completely. I know that I'm not a parent, but I think that as long as the child is being taken care of, whether there's plenty of milk that was pumped and saved or formula, and if the mother knows that she needs a break, why not?

If someone was suffering from PPD and knew that she needed to get away for her own sanity, wouldn't that be a good idea?

A mother's no good to her own children if she isn't taking care of herself first.

The Empress said...

It's such a hard place to be, no one knows what pushed her to that brink.

A temporary disconnect from your mind will have you doing things that you'd never do during sane periods.

It's so hard to say, but I feel sorry for the mother and child.

They both suffer.

Sarah Remmer said...

Great post Loukia! For me, I couldn't fathom leaving my little guy for the first year, but I did when he was 9 months for 4 days and regret it to this day. It was a girls trip away that we had planned WAY too far in advance and I just happened to stop breastfeeding at 8 months. I had a great time, but feel badly for leaving him so young. He was totally fine, but I agree with you that until they are a year, they should be with their Mommas. Now I cherish my little get-aways with my husband or friends sans toddler- they keep me sane and make me a better mother.

Kristin Donahue said...

My boys are three and four and I've been traveling for work and it is so hard. Next week they start preschool and it is breaking my heart. Part of me keeps thinking--can't I just teach them what they need to know. My mom said that this is only the beginning. I had no idea how both happy and sad it would be watching my children grow up!