Why Yes, I Will Take a Vacation From My Family with That

by Alisa on September 19, 2010

I’m going to Italy, and I’m not taking my husband or my daughter.

Whenever I tell anyone this, I generally get one of two reactions:

1.     What’s wrong with your husband?

2.     I wish I could do that. I could never leave my family for that long.

The people who respond with #1 assume that my husband must have a screw loose for not insisting that we all go together.

But my husband would never want to do what I’m doing in Italy, and neither would my daughter. My daughter only likes vacations that involve amusement park rides, macaroni and cheese, family style restaurants, and sandcastles. There will be none of that where I am headed. My husband likes vacations that involve snowboarding, dangerous cycling, sweat, delayed onset muscle soreness, and body odor.

If there is any of that where I am going, I will ask for a refund.

I’m going to Italy to drink espresso and wine. I’m going to Italy to eat my face off. I’m going to Italy to take cooking classes, but not too many because too many cooking classes would seem like work and there will be no work while I am in Italy. (Although there might be some tweeting, because, well, there just might be is all I’m saying). There will also be naps—as many as three a day. There will be books read by the villa pool. There might be horseback riding—but only if I’m in the mood and the horse agrees not to gallop. There will probably be some walks through the countryside.

I might even put on my running shoes. I’m not saying that I won’t.

But this is not a vacation that will revolve around exercise, healthy eating or staying a certain weight on the scale.

No, this vacation? It’s about self-indulgence. It’s about catching up on all of the sleep I’ve missed out on during the past 6 years. It’s about flavor—the flavor of olives, the flavor of fish, the flavor of wine–the flavor of all good food and drink.

I adore flavor.

I’ll be cooking flavor and I’ll be eating flavor.

I might even be dreaming flavor during all of the naps I’ll be taking. If I don’t have a multiple flavor orgasm while I am in Italy, then I will go to Italy again, and I will keep going to Italy until I do have one.

I am not normally a self-indulgent person. I am not normally an all-about-me person, either.

Normally? I’m the type of person who gives to others and takes little for herself. Normally, I’m the type of person who bends over backwards to ensure that everyone else in the room is happy.

But for this vacation I am going to embrace my abnormal side because this vacation is all about me. While in Italy, I’ll be doing exactly what I want to do. I will not be a stereotypical middle child and ever for one moment even think of saying, “Whatever you want to do will work for me.” No, I will not say those words on this vacation, and if I do, my good friend Deb—who will be traveling with me–has my permission to gag me with with a kalamata olive.

In Italy I will be doing what I want, and I will be doing what I want while I am eating kalamata olives, among many other culinary wonders.

What a gift.

Yes, it’s a gift, one that I’ve given to myself for my 40th birthday. It’s a gift, one that my husband has given to me because, yes, he loves me that much.

And it’s even a gift from Deb, too, because she allowed me to plan the perfect vacation for me—and she agreed to come along and share it with me, too.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. That’s how loved I feel. I am so thankful for my husband and for Deb—because they adore me enough to encourage me to do this for myself.

And I am thankful for myself—for allowing myself this gift.

As for my family: they will survive without me. I will miss them. They will miss me. But I’ll be a much better mom and wife after this trip than I could ever be if I did not go.

I’m exhausted. I’m dropping balls. I need a break. This is the break I need.

I’ll be a better me in 9 days, and I’ll be a better cook, too. I’m somewhat certain that I’ll even be a better blogger.

That’s all important.

So ciao for a bit. I’m off to better myself.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie September 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

This sounds PERFECT! I think it’s amazing that you’re doing this for yourself and that your husband loves you enough to be OK with you doing this for yourself. You’ll come back a much more grounded person which can only help your relationships, with your husband, daughter, friends, colleauges (or however that word is spelled). I’m envious… Italy is my “I will get there before I die” place. Be sure to fill us all in on how it is so I… I mean, we… can live vicariously through you.

Enjoy yourself! You deserve it!

Reply

debbie September 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Love love love. I just love every word of this, every idea, every dream. Enjoy! Sounds like heaven to me.

Reply

Kathy September 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

This is such great news – although I will miss your blogs! But I’m glad you are doing this for yourself. I however am taking a 3-night vacation with 7 girlfriends. I’m really starting to wonder what made me think this would be a good thing to do. I may end up taking lots of walks just to have some space to myself.

I found my (so far) ultimate flavor orgasm – Red Velvet Cake. This year for my birthday, I’m changing my standard German Chocolate to Red Velvet Cake from a very specific restaurant. I told hubby all I want is another 10 sessions with my personal trainer and an entire Red Velvet Cake ($40)

Here’s my response to “I’m going to Italy and I’m not taking my husband or my daughter”: Hot damn for you. You go girl. I wish I were brave enough to travel to a foreign country (I’d need a passport for that wouldn’t I???).

Have a fabulous time. Eat lots of yummy food and drink plenty of yummy wine. Nap till you can’t stand the thought of sleeping another second (but not too much that you don’t see Italy).

I look forward to your return and hearing all about it. And I trust you’ll be sharing pics on FB.

Reply

Lynn September 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

This is so cool, Alisa! Right now I happen to be studying Italian cause I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a home exchange next summer. Italy is just the best! Have a fantastic time–buon viaggio!

Reply

Julie Roads September 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm

This just made me cry. I’m so proud of you. You should be on a billboard. You have BALLS or OVARIES…or something.

To me, this shows courage, self-love, deep understanding (of yourself and quite a few others). It takes serious strength to do such things, Alisa.

You deserve this…every bit of it. Every bite of it.

Safe travels and happy self-loving…you will be missed—and revered.

Reply

Sarah Liz September 20, 2010 at 2:10 am

Words cannot tell you how envious I am of you right now….envious, but abundantly happy for you also!

You HAVE earned this, and you DO deserve it!

We ALL need a vacation now and then, and your idea of a vacation sounds a lot like mine!

Go ahead, better yourself–live it up!

Nap, relax and eat until your pants pop!

Jus Sure, you’ll miss your family, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and you will be a better wife and mother for it!

You are lucky to have a husband who understands and a friend to go with–we will all live vicariously through you–especially me!

Thanks for sharing your courage to take a self-imposed vacation and thanks for sharing your excitement and joy in doing so–it’s terrific!

Be safe, have fun, induldge, and learn–most of all, just eat and love every single moment of it!

Oh, and have some real (at the source) Parmessano Regiano cheese for me, please!

Ciao!

Many Blessings,
-Sarah Liz :)

Reply

Drummer Guy September 20, 2010 at 8:43 am

WHAT!!!!! Your going on vacation & NOT taking your husband? How could you?….HE HE absolutely kidding with you. Just thought I would get that out of the way for you so you can ignore when anybody else says it…LOL I crack me up :-)

My Mom took a couple of overseas trips with a couple of her friends that she enjoyed SO much. She had a GREAT time. Came back refreshed, rejuvinated & ready to take on the world. Dad & us survived just fine, the world did not end, nobody went hungry & the house did not fall apart…lol Dad encouraged her to go & have a good time. After all those years of “being a wife & mom” she sure earned it. Latter on she & dad went on a couple of overseas trips together after the kids were all grown.

I hope you have a WONDERFUL time. I have been to Italy myself. MY first wife was in the Air Force & got stationed in Germany. This gave us a chance to travel all over Europe for long weekends etc. Italy was one of my favorites. The people are wonderful, welcoming, & the food!!!! Yea I nearly had an orgasm myself…lol Oh you HAVE to try Italian Ice Cream. There were a couple of places close to the base in Germany that served it. WOW!!! That alone is an orgasm in itself. ;-)

Have a GREAT Trip
Ron

Reply

Lauren September 20, 2010 at 9:32 am

What an awesome example you are, by making this opportunity for yourself and – as you pointed out – allowing yourself to take advantage of it. I hope it’s a wonderful trip and that it’s everything you are looking forward to. Ciao!

Reply

Joanne & Ray September 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Alisa- Have a wonderful time in Italy. I am doing the same thing in January going to Greece with a dear friend and without Ray and while he hates to be without me he really has no problem with me going. No guilt he just doesn’t sleep well without me but it is only 9 days and the welcome home should be incredible. Enjoy all that Italy has to offer.
Eat lots of gelato for me.

Reply

Kathy September 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Joanne, leave your hubby a pair of your recently slept in jammies to snuggle with while you’re away. I send hubby on business trips with my recently slept in shirt. Supposedly it helps him sleep. Personally, I just need my own pillow, complete quiet and complete darkness. Men can be such babies some times. ; )

Reply

Sheryl September 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

You are doing such a wonderful thing for yourself. Enjoy every minute of it. Something about travelling w/out your family is so freeing and eye-opening .I’ve done it many times and I always come back so grateful for what I have and so renewed. Be careful, though; Italy is so fabulous you might not want to come home :)

Reply

Deb September 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I’m the “Deb” Alisa is going to Italy with and she’s the one who should be thanked for doing all the planning and allowing me to go with her. Like her, I’m leaving behind husband and children and dogs. And like her, I’m feeling equal amounts of guilt and giddy excitement. This is by far the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done. Even when I took a week and went on an Alaskan cruise with my mother, leaving my husband home with three boys and the dog, it wasn’t as self indulgent as a week in Tuscany because it was important bonding time with my mother. The spa weekends with my sister and friend? Only two or three days.

But 10 days? In Tuscany? In a 5-star villa? Self indulgent, no two ways about it. And you know what, I think I deserve it.

Like Alisa, I work hard. Very hard. I own my own medical writing business and I’m it. If I can’t write it, it doesn’t get written. For 10 years I’ve worked more nights and weekends than I want to admit. For the past two weeks, in order to take some real time off, I’ve worked nonstop until midnight most nights, back at my computer by 7 a.m. Like Alisa, I want this vacation to be about sensation, the sensation of amazing food, luscious wines, incredible scenery, and rest.

I don’t want to sightsee, I don’t even want to plan what we’re going to do. Other than downloading Rick Steves’ travel book on Tuscany onto my iPad, I’ve done no preparation for this trip. I want, for a change, to try and live in the moment. . . whatever that means. Perhaps the most difficult part of the trip will be to follow my husband’s instructions as I was leaving. “Relax,” he said. “And have fun.”

I haven’t experienced either in quite a while. . .it’s time.

Reply

Joanne & Ray September 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Kathy- good idea. I will often go away for a four day weekend with my girlfriends and that is all Ray ever complains about is that he has a hard time sleeping without me there. He is 6’2″ and a hopeless spooner ( He literally surrounds me as we sleep) so I should get him a body pillow and maybe put one of my sleeping T-shirts on it for him.

Reply

Frugal Kiwi September 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Do it, ladies. Grab life and take a great big, juicy bite!

Reply

Kathy September 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Joanne, sounds like a perfect solution. But then he may not notice you’re gone. LOL!!!!

Reply

Sabrina September 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Have a GREAT time Alisa. You will be missed.

Reply

Maureen September 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Joanne: My husband too! He hates sleeping without me and totally wraps me up when we sleep. He says he freezes when I’m gone.
I’ve also gone away lots without my hubby. He is a hopeless hermit and to leave his beloved property pains him. Every two years he gets a hankering to go somewhere and it is usually spectacular so I don’t complain. And usually my trips away have to do with visiting family.
Its always so nice to come back and realize how much we missed each other but I’m usually so busy when I go somewhere that the days whip by.

Reply

judy September 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Party on girl! :)

Reply

tracy ann engel September 21, 2010 at 1:32 am

Buy great calamata olives on: http://www.diletto.co.za

Reply

tracy ann engel September 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

Have a great “me-time” trip.
You deserve it!

Reply

PB September 21, 2010 at 8:27 am

Life is meant to be lived! Good for you for embracing what you want to do and living life to the fullest! Enjoy every moment!

Reply

Janet DeVito September 21, 2010 at 8:41 am

I couldnt have said it better. And THAT is WHY I do what I do! I started hosting Girls Getaways for the very reason you stated. And women should not feel guilty about “treating themselves to time away”. Over the years, I have had so many women Cruise with us, from all different stages and walks of life…and the profound thing is that we are all so similar and find common ground so quickly. It is wonderful to escape the stresses of life and just be a girl!

Reply

Janet DeVito September 21, 2010 at 8:42 am

I meant to be notified of updates!
You Go Girls! Have fun! Live Life!
We all deserve to Getaway and experience US!

Reply

Joanne & Ray September 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

Janet; How do you organize those gal trips? My girlfriends and I are interested in doing just that. Our kids are grown or almost grown some are divorced, some still married but we all want to step out of the roles we have played for years and re-experience some life.

Reply

Kathy September 21, 2010 at 9:03 am

Joanne, I’m leaving tomorrow for an all girls trip. I don’t know how Janet organized her trips, but I said I wanted to go to The Hill Country (a big portion of TX near Austin), several of my friends said they wanted to go. We picked a date, I found us a house to rent, we leave tomorrow morning. It’s a total of 8 of us. Hopefully we don’t kill each other. This is our first trip together. And none of us have know each other for more than a year or slightly more.

The hardest part is the organizing who’s driving, what food are we taking, and what are we doing. But with three cars between 8 women, the gals that like to be busy on vacation can go see the sights. Those of us that like to actually relax (ME!!!) can hang at the house and chill.

I’ll let you know how it all goes when we get back. This may be our one and only trip or it may be the start of something memorable.

Reply

Lisa September 21, 2010 at 9:05 am

Sounds like a great trip! Enjoy!! Cant wait to hear all about it.

Reply

Joanne & Ray September 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

Kathy- Sounds like fun, my girlfriends and I have talked about in 2011 going on a 4 day trip once every other month to a different part of the country. So far we have Seattle, Washington ; Napa Valley, California; Sedona, Arizona; Key West, Florida; Savanah, Georgia; and Bar Harbor, Maine. Leave on a Thursday night, fly back on a Monday night.
Just to get a flavor for other parts of the country.

Reply

Kathy September 21, 2010 at 9:14 am

Joanne, that sounds like fun. That’s a bit much for my group. We’re driving about 4 hours south of us on Wednesday and coming back on Saturday. Better rental rates during the weekdays.

The places you have picked all sound nice. Although, I’m not a fan of Sedona. And for growing up in CA and living all over CA, I never did make it to Napa Valley. Silly, silly me.

Reply

Janet DeVito September 21, 2010 at 9:16 am

My first cruise ever was after my first husband died. I organized a cruise with about 20 friends (and friends of friends!) it was the best thing I could hve done at the time. Just what I needed! I since then began organizing Girls Getaways and host 2 per year. So much fun! Usually between 50 and 100 women. Some come alone, some with moms and daughters, some old BFFs..and a wide range of ages. And it always amazes me how EVERyONE gets along! We do cocktail parties every night, special events all created to inspire women to just be “Girls” and have fun! I have met and made many friends along the way. It is something I truly look forward to every year! I currently have one in January (out of Miami) and one in June (out of NJ). you can see pics and more info at girlsonacruise.com
I am happily married, and love my hubby…and I also love being with my friends and nurturing those relationships. For me…it is so important and makes me feel so lucky to spend time with friends! You should come with us!!!

Reply

Helene September 21, 2010 at 9:20 am

Alisa,

I just got back from 2 weeks in Italy for our honeymoon. For the past 6 months I kept worrying about this trip’s threat to make me gain weight, about not being able to exercise, and having my new husband fall out of love with me for getting fat. Finally, a month ago – I realized I had a SERIOUS self-esteem issue if I weren’t able to look forward to an amazing trip with the person I love the most only because of body image. My obsessing about looking fat in my wedding dress and during our honeymoon finally brought home to me the fact that I have become a slave of my own body image issues at the expense of feeling everyone’s love that surrounds me.

So I splurged on 2 therapy sessions (which I plan on continuing to address these deeper issues – but there was only time for 2 before leaving for the trip) and somehow found a way to give me permission to completely self-indulge, completely enjoy food and naps and slow walks along various scenic routes including stops for pizza and gelato with my husband. I come back 10 lbs heavier but feeling more free and happy than I can remember since teenagehood took over 20 years ago. I now look forward to healthy habits again and to continue this therapy so that I can learn to love myself without obsessing about weight – this in turn will teach me how to love my husband better. It would have been a sad, sad honeymoon if I’d woken up depressed every day because of a few extra pounds making my jeans tight. It would have kept me from wanting to be intimate, from enjoying the gelatos, the wine, the long minutes of gazing in each other’s eyes while sipping Baley’s at the very top of Capri Island… I am so glad I was able to let all that go to really enjoy Italy the way it’s meant to be enjoyed!

So your post really hit home for me. I wish you the same freedom within yourself for that trip. You absolutely deserve it. May the gods of olives, wine, and coffee free your spirit of any negative self-talk for those magical 9 days. I’ll pray for you to find what I found there!!!

Reply

Kathy September 21, 2010 at 9:23 am

Janet, that is amazing. And so awesome!!!

Reply

Drummer Guy September 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

Sounds like everybody has some fun me times planned. Hey if I put on a dress can I go??? I’m in touch with my feminine side, I’m low maintenence & don’t eat much. Just throw me a bisqute once in a while & I’ll be okay… Calgon take me away…….LOL…..I crack me up.

Alisa, Kathy,Janet, Helen & Joanne enjoy your trips. You have all earned the right for some “ME time”. My mom used to take some with her friends, especially after the kids were all grown. But even as I was the youngest & entered teen years she would go with some friends on trips. Saw some wonderful places had a great time & came back refreshed.

A few years ago when my beloved & I first got married I won a trip from my job to go to Taladaga AL for the big race they have there. I hesitated to go as the other guys going were way more in to partying than me. But it was a 4 day weekend so I went. I was MISERABLE & in HELL…LOL Like I feared the whole trip was a bunch of guys getting sloppy drunk all night & day. Going to strip clubs etc. Now I’m not a prude or holier than thou. I have no problems if that is what some men like to do. Just isn’t my cup of tea. I COULDN’T WAIT to get home. Very few people believe me when I tell them that strippers do absolutely nothing for me. Honestly my beloved probably wouldn’t even be offended if I went to one as long as I behaved. I just don’t want to go. Even when I was in my early 20′s it was just never apealing to me & I am a guy with a VERY high libido. Oh well different strokes for different folks I guess.

So while I would probably enjoy some guy time most of the guys I know, aside from some friends from church idea of a good time is excesive drinking, partying, going to strip clubs, etc. If they are into that fine I just don’t like being around it. I enjoy the occassional beer, glass of wine or mixed drink but I think I got to old for hangovers. Can’t handle those AT ALL…..LOL

One thing I do have going right now though is the first weekend of every month my band has a regular gig booked at a local casino. We play on a Sat night & as part of our pay we get free Jacuzzi suites for the night & comp meals at their 5 star resteraunt they have in house. That does me SO MUCH good & provides me an escape from the grind of caregiving. I am already looking forward to it Oct 1st. Have a GREAT trip Alisa.

Ron :-)

Reply

Mrs. Levine September 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

A big part of marriage is compromise and no one should be expected to compromise on every vacation till death do you part. Enjoy!

Reply

Drummer Guy September 22, 2010 at 10:33 am

Oh & Helene just know that calories don’t count on honeymoons, vacations & holidays. The magic calorie genie’s remove them when your sleeping. Well that’s my story & I’m sticking to it…lol :-)

Reply

Heather September 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Alisa and Deb,

You are my inspiration. I look forward to hearing more about your self-indulgence and hopefully you’ll post a recipe or 2 on the blog.

Reply

Jane September 23, 2010 at 7:03 am

This sounds lovely. Women don’t take “me” time enough and it’s ever so important for both physcial and mental health. We are always guilty about something, whether it be about work, the dog, the kids, or the bikini wax that’s overgrown! Do not feel guilty in Italy, just indulge!

Reply

Michelle September 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

Please visit my blog…there is something there for you!
http://menarethattheymighthavejoy.blogspot.com/2010/09/they-like-me-they-like-me.html

Reply

Kaitlyn September 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I went to Italy 2 years ago with my daughter and was part of a tour group. While planning the trip my husband made it known that he wanted to go with us. I had serious reservations about it, because we have had many stressful and disappointing vacations together, due to the fact that he has very limited interests and the trip to Italy would not include his interests. This trip was something I have dreamed of all my life and I did not want it ruined. After much thought and tackling the guilt associated with it, I insisted he stay at home. It was the best decision I could have made. I had a wonderful time and I am so glad that I didn’t fall prey to the guilt and did something for myself. It was a long time coming….have a great time Alissa.

Reply

Sherry September 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Good for you! Have a great time!

Reply

kevin g September 24, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I believe separate vacations are great for a marriage. Independence and freedom help both people grow and improves the couples’ bonds. It shows trust, honesty, open communication, sacrifice, all good things. Have fun.

Reply

Adrian Roth September 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm

After six years, you certainly deserve to just get away from everything – - every so often you have to just do something for yourself. But I gotta warn you, if your family is anything like mine, don’t be surprised it they barely survive without you!

Reply

SallyGirl September 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

LOVED reading this! What a wonderful thing to do for yourself! Have a great time!

Reply

sarah henry September 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

Want the full, flavorful report when you’re back at the desk. Enjoy, sounds like a great idea (duly noted)!

Reply

Gayle September 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Have a great time!! I can never understand why people have a hard time getting the need to be by yourself free from filling breakfast, lunch and dinner requests, homework and laundry. Time just for you.
I try to take one of these at least once every two years if I could swing one every year oh that would be great!

Enjoy enjoy enjoy!
Oh and dont forget to relax LOL

Reply

Drummer Guy September 29, 2010 at 9:46 am

I have been offline for a few days. My internet was down. I guess Alisa must be on her trip. Alisa if you are checking your blog, I hope you are having a WONDERFUL time. Italy is a wonderful place & we all look forward to hearing all about your trip when you get home. I am sure you will have to take a few days to catch up on the family. I’ll bet they are glad to have you home. I’d also bet you feel so refreshed after your trip.

Then again I hope you stayed away from the blog while you were away. Isn’t that the idea of a vacation. To get away from everything?…..LOL I still crack me up :-)

You still ROCK
Ron :-)

Reply

Melanie Haiken September 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

I’m just back from a week of me time and for me, too, that was truly a revolutionary thing. When I was discussing this with a friend, she told me that she always pictures those videos they show on airlines, in which they instruct moms to put the oxygen mask on themselves FIRST before putting it on their child. Despite the fact that it goes against every instinct we have, it’s a necessity, because how can we attend to our children if we’re losing consciousness ourselves? I Such an apt metaphor. Have a WONDERFUL trip!!!! Enjoy, indulge, check out, celebrate YOU!!!

Reply

Hillary October 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

That is a great thing, when you friends and family come together and help you get what you want and need. I hope you had fun on your vacation. I am going to look and see if you posted how it went.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: