Redefining Family Vacations

by Molly Undercover on June 28, 2017

I’m going to need to be complainey here just for a minute, ok?  I promise, I’ll get it out of my system so we can get back to interesting and fun things tomorrow. But today, I had that ‘cry in the car’ kind of day, and each of my friends and siblings have done their patient duty of listening to me prattle this already month, and now it’s your turn, dear readers.

Lately I feel like I’ve slid back months in the process of letting go of my marriage.

Today, it’s the process of planning vacations that sets me off (I know, I’m pretty lucky if this is the type of thing that gets me upset).

I’m planning summer trips and adventures. Tim has his two middle-school aged cousins in town this week, and life is good. They are so cute together, cracking each other up all day, developing inside jokes and having fun. It’s early summer and we have tons of plans with family for the Fourth of July. I also have weeks of vacation saved up at work, and only need to make a plan in order to be on the road somewhere. I’m in a great situation.

But for some reason, I am having a terrible time committing to any particular plan for weekend trips or longer vacations. Even for this weekend with the cousins here. On the surface, it’s just indecision, but if I sit with my feelings a little bit I realize I’m feeling alone. This is the kind of stuff I used to get heavy input from Tim’s dad on. My decision-making skills are weakened from years of letting my spouse take the lead. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

In addition, I worry that every plan I come up with will be inadequate. To me, vacation = family time. And up until recently, family was always the three of us; Tim, his dad, and me. At a time like this, I would have enjoyed sharing the fun of seeing the cousins together with Tim’s Dad. On vacation with just Tim and I, I’m afraid I’m not enough; not interesting enough, not good enough at planning. And I can never make our family go back to what it used to be for Tim, and what if a vacation with me as the only adult is just no fun?

None of these negative feelings change the situation that brought me here though. Vacations with Tim’s dad didn’t make up for a marriage that didn’t work. Yes, vacations were happy experiences, but I tried to use to make up for weeks and months of isolation and lack of support in my relationship.

It’s a good thing that I’m no longer sitting passively by and letting some man make decisions for me all the time, and feeling unhappy. It’s a good thing that I have a choice over how I spend my time, and that I am lucky enough to have vacation time and good friends and family to plan things with. It’s not light. It’s not fun, but it is what it is.

Today at work I went out for a walk. We have a little nature trail you can take that leads to a coffee shop. I walked with stress about whether I could give Tim enough fun this summer running through my mind. Then, I just started to feel like it was all pointless. What’s the point of having fun if families can break up, people get old and die, and everything can go to hell? Some dark shit was running through my mind.

Then I noticed. Some kind of fluffy wildflowers along the path were sending seed puffs waving in the wind and flying up into the sun. The weather was just about exactly 80 degrees, with light streaks of clouds and no humidity. The breeze blew across my face. I got lost in the moment. The words came to my mind, “All we have is Presence,” meaning, the only thing that matters is right now. Suddenly the pressure to create the perfect experiences when Tim and I are together lightened, and I realized that the elegance of every little moment matters so much more.

Especially with how quick he is growing up! My experience on this walk made me want to just hang out with Tim, just let go of any idea that I need to be ultra-fun. I like this super-zen, wise version of me. Maybe this is how I single mom, at my best? Still, I gotta plan a vacation. There’s so many places I want to go, both as a free single lady and with Tim. I’d love to take him on a bunch of weekend trips and a road trip out west. I would love to read comments – have you had any good single mama adventures with your kids?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Farrell July 24, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Dude I totally get it as I’ve totally been there. But I like what you said when you saw the wildflowers: just BEING with your son and having your own little adventures is enough. Have you ever met a kid who went
Somewhere super cool and exciting and their favorite moment was eating ice cream with mom at dusk, watching the birds over the water? I have.
Don’t put undo pressure on yourself. Besides, family vacations aren’t all they are cracked up to be either. Go ask a married couple with kids. Go ask the kids how their parents got along. Grass is not always greener. Enjoy the freedom you have of only having to take your wishes and tim’s into account, and not a third wheel.

When I go “on vacation” with my daughter, we usually go visit family or friends who live elsewhere. That’s it, that’s the big plan. We do fun things when we are there, but mostly it’s about spending time together.

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Haydee August 3, 2017 at 8:07 pm

It’s hard but you find your own sense of adventure with your kids. Our first “family”vacation post divorce was a road trip to Lake Tahoe from Orange County. It was awesome, and my kids (14) and (6) loved it. We did an overnight in Mammoth and hit cool stops along the way. When we arrived to Tahoe we spend a week there. Your son will love it and love just getting away. Good Luck =)

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Cassie August 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Went looking for blogs to read of women in the same situation as me and found your site. I just read your blog about the vacations and it made me feel better knowing…I’m not alone in these feelings of inadequacy! I just had my first week off with my 2 girls and no husband and we did 2 small inexpensive trips to local attractions and the rest of the days we hung out at home, went for walks, went to the park and just spent time together. I’ve stressed about future vacations and what I will do to keep it fun for them…but I’m learning (slowly) that it’s ok to just be YOU. YOU are enough for them. They don’t need elaborate trips. I don’t do social media and I think that helps! I’ll be interested to see your next blog!

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