Vacation Without Kids: A Surprise for Mom

Lisa and husband Bob at the Tower of London on their 20th-anniversary trip

Vacation without the kids — is it possible? With her teenage daughter safely stowed away at leadership camp, MomSpeaker Lisa Weinstein was finally able to answer that question definitively: Yes! Quelling her "mommy fears" even more was a surprise her daughter left for her, uncovered on the flight to London.

For years, my husband Bob and I have dreamed of taking a trip to London. Yes, London!

  • Where the Fab Four found their fame
  • Where 2,000-year-old buildings coexist with modern skyscrapers
  • Where royal weddings in all their regalia are watched world-wide
  • Where you'll find culture, history, entertainment and shopping galore!

Yes, London! But would we ever find the right time to go?

As much as I wanted to experience our first overseas vacation, something stood in the way — my overprotective "mommy" fears. I did not want to leave my daughter Melissa for such a long time, knowing I'd be so far away if anything should happen. Logically, I knew Melissa would be safe under the loving roof of her big sister Jessica's home. In fact, she'd be treated like a queen. But still, those overprotective mommy fears kept my feet firmly grounded on United States soil.

That is, until Melissa joined the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO). As part of this international organization for teens that fosters community service, leadership skills, friendship and Jewish heritage, Melissa had the opportunity to spend two weeks this summer at a leadership camp on a college campus in West Virginia.

Hmmmm, if Melissa was tucked away at a leadership camp, perhaps, just perhaps, I could loosen the reins on my overprotective mommy fears and take a dream vacation with my hubby to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I knew she'd be safe and that at least a dozen family members and friends would gladly be "on call" to handle an unlikely emergency while we were away.

What's more, my "baby" would be 17. I had to allow myself to let go, if for only two weeks' time.

As Bob and I sat in the airport, I pulled out my journal, disguised as a standard yellow notebook. By the end of my travels, I hoped to fill these pages with every nuance of our journey, starting with the jumbled emotions that played tug of war with my heart as we waited to board the plane that would whisk us across the Pond.

Nervous. Scared. Excited. Worried. I hadn't even left the country, and already I missed my daughter.

Pen in hand, I opened my journal, only to discover that somebody had already filled up the first two pages. Thinking I had taken one of Melissa's school notebooks by mistake, I started reading.

I had not taken the wrong notebook. My "baby" had written her parents a letter of goo-bye, full of hope and joy and wisdom and love.  With her permission, I share her heartfelt words with you now.

Dear Mom and Dad,

By the time you read this, you will probably be on a plane to England and I will be at camp meeting new people. But knowing my mother, you will probably read this before you even leave the house. Anyway, I'm excited for you guys to finally experience a different country and bask in all of its historic (boring) glory.

No, but seriously I'm not gonna lie — I'm a little jealous. I know you have so many fun, amazing things planned and so many adventures to go on. Just remember, don't be afraid to try new things! Mom, don't avoid eating certain foods just because you think it will taste yucky. You won't know unless you try.

And Dad, don't be afraid to step out of the tour group for a second if you see something that isn't being explained. The most beautiful and interesting things in the world could be the thing that the tour guide passes.

And to both of you — live in the moment. Take in every single thing you see, notice how you are feeling at that moment, and think of it as a blessing. Not many people get the chance to do what you're doing, so appreciate every minute you have in this magical place and don't waste it constantly looking at your itinerary or watch. Go with the flow and don't be upset if things aren't going as planned. Some of the best moments are made when you don't plan them.

As for me, I'm going to try to take my own advice at camp. Even though I've been reading blogs and watching videos about what you do there, I'm still nervous for the whole experience. But I know it will be a great one that will allow me to grow as a leader and a person. It will be the longest I've been away from you guys I think but I will text every night before I go to bed and hopefully find a good time to call before it's bedtime for you guys. Stupid time change . . .

I'll miss you guys so much. I'm also going to keep a journal (like mother like daughter) so you can both read about my experiences when we get home. And I can't wait to read about yours!

Just remember, live in the moment and don't spend too much time writing in this. Do take lots of pictures though. The goofiest ones you can think of.

I love you both so much. Don't miss me too much! Enjoy your time together because 20 years is definitely worth celebrating. Dad, try not to annoy mommy too much!


PS — Bring me back a cute British boy!

Melissa's letter was the most wonderful surprise! We may have been worlds away, but her words brought me closer to her charming spirit than she'll ever know.

Reading those words, I knew there would be no need to worry. My beautiful daughter, so full of of wisdom beyond her years, would be just fine.

And so would I.

Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.



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MomSpeak Contributors

Trish Adkins, Yoke
Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun
Chris Bernholdt, DadNCharge
Stacy Heenan Biscardi, Wifty & Shifty
Hillary Chybinski, My Scraps
EJ Curran, Four Little Monsters
Darla DeMorrow, The Pregnant Entrepreneur
Rachée Fagg, Say It Rah-Shay
Raya Fagg, And Starring As Herself…MRSRFKJ
Mara Gorman, The Mother of All Trips
Stephanie Glover, A Grande Life
Erin Flynn Jay, Mastering the Mommy Track
Jean Ladden, Jean's Book Reviews
Brie Latini, ( . . . a breezy life)
Toni Langdon, Tickles and Time Outs
Lisa Lightner, A Day in Our Shoes
Jeanine Ludwikowski, Mommy Entourage
Kathryn M. Martin, Mamacado
Jeanne McCullough, Mom Hearts Pinot
Trina O'Boyle, O’Boy! Organic
Kelly Raudenbush, My Overthinking
Lindsey Schuster, Sisters to Sons
Sandra Telep, West Philly Mama
Marissa Kiepert Truong, Land of Once Upon a Time
Lisa Weinstein, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein
Shivaun Williams, Dar Liomsa (In My Opinion)
Paige Wolf, Spit That Out!

If you are a Philadelphia-area parenting blogger and would like to contribute to MomSpeak, please e-mail


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