3/26/11

A Park Bench in Paris


When I left NYC a few days ago it was a wintery mix of rain, snow, and wind. I needed a winter coat and an umbrella on my way to the airport. Now I'm sitting on a park bench in Paris. The sun’s out, there are pink flowers blooming on the tree behind me, I have on a light sweater. But the thing that’s making me happiest right now? I’m alone.

I started taking vacations by myself since the twins were born. It’s my secret to happiness. When I find myself becoming overwhelmed by the mindless task of doing the dishes. Or overwhelmed by the chocolate milk stain in my daughter’s favorite shirt. Or when the Ghostbusters theme song stops being funny after hearing the boys sing it for the 15,000 time. I know it’s time for me to take a vacation by myself.

It's not something I plan far out in advance or have to save for. Whatever we can afford at the moment is how my husband and I arrange the trip. The first time I went on a mom vacation, I was living in San Francisco. Our budget was tight so I arranged to stay at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel for two nights. Its location is set on a bluff with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. I knew the accommodations were going to be anything but luxurious, so I packed my down comforter to make the bed feel softer. It didn't offer much in regards to entertainment, so I downloaded free episodes of the radio show This American Life to my iPod to listen to while I watched the sunset. The hostel was twenty minutes from my house, it cost me $46 total to stay there for two nights, and I came back to my home on Sunday night rejuvenated. Changed. Happier. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

That brings me to this park bench in Paris. It’s been four year since my first motherhood vacation and with each trip, I’ve gained independence as a traveler. This is by far the most expensive, farthest from home, and longest trip I have taken. I saved money by traveling during the low tourist month of March and by staying with friends.

My only goal for the trip is see pretty things and eat good food every seven days I’m here. I'll go back when the kids are in high school and drag them to all tourist attractions and museums. I’ll go again when I'm old with a tour group. The Paris I want to see right here on this park bench. Quit, unrushed, mixed with a twinge of guilt for being so happy.

10 comments:

  1. Ah, I love this idea and congrats for getting out there to just BE! Enjoy the beauty and peace of your surroundings a little for us still in cold NYC :)

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  2. Dude. Go to the museums. Louve. Musee de orsay. Really. It won't be the same taking teens years from now. I promise you won't be sorry. --emily

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  3. oh my gosh that lighthouse! i've been talking about going there alone for a couple weeks now. every since i finished reading that Guernesy book that you didn't really like. It was safe and fun? Jared thinks it would be sketchy all alone but i really want to do it. please advise.

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  4. I am not yet a mom, but I have wondered how I will stay sane when I do become one. Right now I love spending every possible moment with my fiance, but I can imagine a time when I will need some me time to reestablish my identity beyond his wife or her mother. I hope that I can take some me vacations but also that we can take some us ones too.

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  5. Sharon, It was fun to find your blog! I took a trip to Paris with 3 close friends that I met on a study abroad in Paris 10 years earlier. It was heavenly. I came back feeling rejuvenated. I agree--solo trips are so awesome.

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  6. i'm new to your blog [linked over from say yes] and am addicted after only reading a few posts. love learning about NYC! and your writing style is refreshing.

    ps. solo trips are a necessity!

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  7. I've never been on a Mom vacation but it sounds like such a wonderful option! Must start planning 'cause this Mama needs to sleep through the night!! :o)

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  8. what a lovely vacation you had and this post is written so beautifully.

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  9. Mom-vacations are such a great idea. My mother was a single mum, back before there were lots of single mums (at least there weren't many in my city). Mum used to hire a babysitter once a week, and take herself to a bar to sit in the corner with a glass of wine and read for a few hours. She says she wouldn't have been able to handle things without that weekly quiet time to herself.

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