Once, after reading about Cinderella, my daughter Patti said to me, "Mommy, you’re like Cinderella!"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You do all the cleaning and scrubbing and everything – you do all the work," she said, looking me straight in the eye with all the compassion she could muster.
It was good to hear someone had noticed, but a little depressing to hear it laid out quite so clearly.
It’s true. Most of the year I am the worker-in-chief of my family, as well as the boss. I do all of the decision-making, driving, educating and entertaining of kids – and feeding and cleaning.
But there is one time when I get to put away my Cinderella rags and enjoy myself for a while. That is on family vacations.
Come vacation time, all of the jobs I’m usually responsible for shift blissfully onto other people’s shoulders.
I get to make the fun decisions, like where do we go? When? For how long? My husband Bill takes over the boring ones, like do we rent a car or drive all the way? Which hotel should we stay at? What airline will give the best rate?
And sure there is a lot of prep work to be done beforehand – packing and hiring cat-sitters, making sure all of the needed clothes are clean and all that. But that’s OK. It’s somewhat akin to planning a jailbreak – how can you mind the extra work knowing that soon you’ll be free?
The real magic of the vacation starts once we hit the road. I give up my taxicab duties for a week and let Bill take the wheel. I don’t have to worry about stocking the pantry for three squares a day, as we’ll be eating out! And you can’t beat that feeling of coming back to the hotel room that we left all scrungy, to find beds made, room clean and fresh towels at the ready.
Gotta love leaving Cinderella at home.
But really, the best part is that when I am not the house slave, I have time to really talk to and play with my girls. I have time to spend with my husband after dinner instead of washing dishes. My kids are happy (most of the time) and not complaining about being bored. We can truly enjoy each other for a change, instead of being at odds over all of the usual stresses at home. And even when the flights are late and things go wrong, at least we’re in a different place and we’re together. It’s always an adventure.
So wish me a bon voyage as we take off for parts west this spring break. While the hundreds of thousands of vacationing moms just like me may not look like Cinderella at the ball, we will have softened frown lines, maybe a little tan going and a happy, breezy attitude I wish I could maintain the rest of the year.