I'm going away without my family. I'm packing only one suitcase, full of just my clothes, and a few long books I've been meaning to read for some time. I'm off to Las Vegas, a city that doesn't really cater to seven-year-old twins. I'm going to have an adult-only weekend, alone. I will eat big steaks, lay in the sun, and go to see a show. But such simple, solo pleasures, far away, almost feel too guilty.
I'd like to tell you that I'll whoop with joy as I hear the click of my front door. But I'd be lying. I won't feel like a prisoner on weekend release, with no dishwasher to empty, washing machines to fill or family meals to cook. I may even shed a tear or two. The words family and travel are so closely linked in my mind, that it's almost terrifying to do one without the other. The fear isn't about negotiating a new place on my own. I can find my way around the deserts of Nevada as well as anyone. The terror is in becoming a different sort of person to who I am at home. When I travel with the kids, I'm still a mother, just like I am within my own four walls. But when I travel far away without them, I could be anyone. No one I meet will know that, back home, I have three kids, a man and a rabbit. I can reinvent myself.
The only way I could allow myself this long weekend was to decide on a destination where it would be totally inappropriate to take the kids. Las Vegas seemed pretty high on the list. I took the Lonely Planet Las Vegas Encounter guide comment that "resorts would rather you simply left the little ones at home" as an order. I was relieved to learn that some hotels even ban buggies from their extensive grounds. And once I'd picked such a grown-up destination, I could easily convince myself it was in the twins' best interest not to come.
I think lots of Mums find it difficult to give themselves a break. But I also think it's just as difficult to leave one of the kids behind. My teenager, who just turned 16, is on the cusp of crying, "I'm not going off to Jamaica with you!" I have to bribe her to agree to reserve a week of her summer, promising endless fruit cocktails and no curfew on the teen disco. Going away without her wouldn't really be a family holiday. It would be going away with the twins, which is a different thing entirely. Suddenly, there would be no big sister to boss them about and moan, "I'm bored." Relationships would shift. It wouldn't be three kids against two adults, but two against two. We'd spend the whole time exploring this new dynamic, rather than the destination. But I'm looking forward to Las Vegas. And reading those books.
Do you have family travel tips that you'd like to share? E-mail Dea at firstname.lastname@example.org