Yes, I Am Allowed To Take a Vacation. So Are My Kids.

Something really weird happened to me today.

My kids and I are on vacation. I know, shocker. Everyone else takes a vacation and there are photos and stories and Instagrams and Snapchats and canceled plans – “sorry, going to be in Cabo that week!”

I take a vacation and everyone acts like I’ve gone on a two week cocaine bender and spent the electric bill money on a balloon of heroin.

My kids wanted one thing for Christmas: a trip somewhere. Anywhere. We so infrequently leave the area, and having just about everything under the sun they could ever imagine or want, it’s what they naturally asked for. I had a trip planned that was drivable, in our Christmas budget, and would involve stuff they enjoy (shopping, tennis, waterpark, etc.).

Then as Christmas neared, it all sort of fell apart.

First, my dad had surgery on his hip and it was taking much longer to recover than planned. That meant he would need someone to stay home with him.

My husband was SWAMPED at work, I mean swamped; so a vacation was not exactly ideal for him either.

But the kids and I were still all about it; packing and getting those little travel sized bottles of our toiletries…we were just about ready and the day was swiftly nearing for us to leave, then my oldest daughter hurt her knee and rendered herself un-vacation-able.

The resort was nice enough to refund me our entire booking, and I quickly sprung into action to salvage Christmas. I filled the bottom of the tree with some basic gifts I knew my kids would appreciate, and started trying to plan a substitute vacation that wouldn’t require so much physical activity on her knee.

I mean…a trip was what they asked for, and had already been promised…

So I said I would take them to El Segundo to shop and stay for a few days before the holidays; that didn’t pan out because Christmas chaos got in the way. Then I thought *well how about Solvang for New Years.* Didn’t happen. My kids started getting that whole *things Mom promises never come true* air about them, though, so you guys can imagine my delight when both of their tennis teams got invited to the section championships…

…in the same exact place our original trip was planned for (only further out enough in weeks for my daughter’s injury to heal).

Easy peasy, right?

So I got back on the horn with our reservations and the plans; I kicked our activities planning and packing back into full swing. I had an entire bag of those travel sized toiletry things now. My dad and husband’s restrictions were still in place, but that wasn’t going to stop us this time.

So on Tuesday, we headed out. And we are here now.

But I’ll be honest with you guys: I’m not really enjoying it.

We slept really late yesterday, and I woke up feeling like shit. Not like I was ill, but like I should have been up doing things.

We are on vacation and all I could think about was doing the laundry and wiping down the counters.

I took the kids to explore the town a little. We came four days ahead of the rest of their team mates, so we have time to kill and there is a lot to do here. Because my kids play tennis and we’ve never been to the BNP Paribas, I took them to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to have a look around. We headed out to the Living Desert Zoo. Then we ended our day on a local court so they could get in some pre-tournament practice.

I felt awful the whole time. Same thing: others are still up at home working, going to school, doing their chores. And we have the gall to be here enjoying ourselves?

Today – Thursday – has been no different. I woke up feeling unsettled. Like we needed to be doing things. Productive things, not enjoyable things. Not relaxing things.

Definitely not relaxing.

My kids homeschool, so they aren’t missing school or anything; and actually they worked on school all through the public school Christmas break. So while other people we knew were in Hawaii and Cancun and Cabo and Chicago and Bali and Thailand and Big Bear and Aspen, we were at home doing school work and canceling our own plans.

Still, I woke up looking for educational things around the area we could do. Because I just feel like I shouldn’t be taking breaks, from anything.

Why is that?

Then today it came to me, like an epiphany: I feel like shit because I am still letting others influence my feelings and thoughts.

I still let other people’s comments affect how I live my life.

I still let other people’s negativity impact my knowing that how I’m raising my kids is the right way for us.

In the weeks and days that led up to us leaving this past Tuesday, I found myself explaining over and over again to every person I saw just why, how, and what was the reasoning behind us going to the tournament early.

And to be fair, people often questioned or commented or even demanded answers.

“Oh I wish I could afford to go early” – from someone that spent their Christmas in Mexico.

“Wow, must be nice to not have kids in school so you can do whatever you want” – from someone whose middle schooler skipped the first week of school this year to go to Europe.

I counted a whopping 15 questions and comments as I sat here this morning, from people we have seen or talked to over the last few weeks, that were all along those lines.

This is my perpetual dilemma, and it’s weird and I’m tired of it. No one else feels they have to ask permission or explain themselves for the way they live their lives to me. So why do I?

Today I realized that it’s perhaps just the aftermath of all the years of me putting myself in this defendable position. The tangled mess of those years of opening myself up to the judgment and opinions of others won’t unwind overnight. For whatever reason, I still don’t allow myself to enjoy my life. Which is a shame, because I’m teaching my children to do the same.

I fell down in my quest to enjoy life unjudged and in peace this last week or two, when I apologetically explained and defended to everyone that asked just why we would have the gall to do something so heinous as go on vacation. But, I’m correcting that right now before it’s too late.


Something really weird happened to me today. I caught myself allowing old habits to creep up and ruin this experience. I am allowed to take a vacation. So are my kids. The details of it – where we are going, why we are staying there, how we can do such a thing when other people are at school and work – is just a fact of life.

I Can’t Believe I Have To Explain This To You People; How “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “The Little Mermaid” Have Proven Our Cultural Ignorance

I remember the first time I heard the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I was riding in the car with my mother. It was Christmastime, I was visiting her in Seattle as I always did for the holidays. We were on our way to some dive bar, where she would hang out in the bar while I sat, alone, in the dining room section with a book. I was 15.

She was dressed to the nines, ready for a night out and she sang (more like belted) along with the song as her wild and big hair whipped and gyrated around the car to the melody. It was the Barry Manilow version, and I will never forget my mom oo’ing and ahh’ing with the song.

This was in 1997. Now, 21 years later, I am 36 years old and cannot hear that song without that horrifying memory. But it wasn’t the song that brings up the horror; no, let’s be clear here –  it was my mother.

The song was innocuous then, as it is now.

Similarly, I can remember the first time I saw ‘The Little Mermaid.’ I was somewhere around 8 years old. My parents were still married, ‘The Little Mermaid’ had just been released in theaters. My dad took me to see it, and while I didn’t want to go in the theater (I may have been younger, because I was scared), I ended up loving the film. Since then, I have seen it countless times, hundreds or even thousands in fact, and every time my favorite scene is the “Kiss the Girl” scene. They’re in the boat. It’s romantic. The fish are all singing and – I don’t know … it’s just really magical, okay. 

For almost 30 years, and as a woman with a strong sense of bodily autonomy who is raising two daughters and one son to understand the importance of consent, it is still my favorite scene/song.

You guys can imagine, then, my complete and utter shock at the news that radio stations, a cappella choirs, and all manner of places and people are now banning the two songs of my past.

I completely get that we live in a culture where everyone is offended by everything. All the time. That is our 2018 reality, and I suspect it will only continue to get worse as the years plug along.

I’m not sure how it got to that, although I have my suspicions.

Regardless of the reason, or reasons, for people in general being more offended by more things these days, there’s the real thorn in my side of the issue that has to be pointed out: the hypocrisy of it all.

I saw a meme today that says it perfectly:

Credit: Me.me

Right then.

Here’s a lyric from the last couple of years that I find offensive: 

“You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe” – Nicki Minaj

There are so many of them like that, too many to mention. They are about rape. They are about gang banging. They are about the objectification of women and their bodies. But I digress… The point is that if you find that stupid hoe nonsense to be perfectly acceptable, while finding “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or a children’s song to be just too far, I can’t believe I have to explain this to you people, but: you are hypocrites.

Honestly.

On the flip side of it, there is that sticky issue of consent, because don’t get me wrong, even though I think that both songs are completely harmless, I also think they do raise a serious point on the matter.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” on the surface, sounds like a man trying to pressure a woman into staying at his place and, presumably, getting warm in his bed. A few years ago was the first time I heard someone claim it had a “rapey vibe” to it. As if that wasn’t an intelligent enough analysis of the song and its narrative, this year’s holiday season was ushered in by the pearl-clutching ladies of the Internet sharing blog after blog in which headlines like “Baby It’s Cold Outside – EWWW” took down the decades-old ballad.

‘The Little Mermaid’ – the other of our most recently banned songs – is of the same ilk. She wants to be a human and to marry this guy (after literally seeing him once after a shipwreck, whatever you do you Ariel), but it isn’t socially acceptable in her mer-world to do so. What’s laughable about people calling into question the matter of consent in “Kiss the Girl,” though is that Ariel signed a contract. Literally, in plain English, it says that she can be a human and get her voice back if the guy kisses her, and she signed it. How much more consent do you need?

In reality, both really are about consent; but not the way the naysayers of the Internet would have you believe. They’re both about women who actually want to say yes, each in their respective ways; but who both live in a time or place in which it is not socially acceptable to do so. So if you want to be offended, be offended but for the right reason.D

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