I hope you had a nice Mother’s Day, either as the recipient of your children’s attention, or as the giver of joy to your real mother, or a mother figure in your life. It’s a very special day, when one gets to show admiration and gratitude to the important women in your life—-it’s one of the few days of the year when mothers get to hear words of praise and thanks, instead of the usual laundry list of what one failed to do, or somehow managed to do wrong. I LOVE mother’s day, and my children have never disappointed me. They go all out, for which I am deeply grateful. I celebrated Mother’s Day in two cities this year, as I have for a long time,—twice as much fun!!!
I recently took 3 weeks “off” to visit all my children, now living in 4 cities in the US, while I’m in Paris much of the time. Until the pandemic I visited them every 3 or 4 weeks, since the pandemic and the ongoing risk of Covid, I visit them less often, but for longer and only see them every few months. They are all allegedly grown up (are any of us ever REALLY grown up?? Not always, no matter how old we are, we have our childish moments, and I do too.) But in any case, they all have lives and jobs, and some of them are recently married. And no one wants their mother hanging around at those ages, so the challenge for the mother of adult children is to keep it light, not stay too long, keep the critical comments to a minimum if at all, and don’t be a pain in the neck. I did not enjoy time with my parents at their ages. My kids are amazingly tolerant of me, and I try hard not to be a nuisance, but probably am anyway. And the criticism, if any, is mutual at those ages, they also tell me if they think the new curtains I picked are butt ugly, or if my daughters hate what I’m wearing. As I’ve often heard, motherhood is not for sissies, at any age. But for the most part it is an immense amount of joy. I am crazy about my kids.
To be a little more precise, when I say I took time off to visit them, in my case, it still means that I am working when I’m not with them during my visits, with conference calls with agents, and lawyers, dozens of emails I answer daily late at night, and I always have a manuscript near at hand to work on when I’m not with my kids, after I leave them after dinner, or when they’re busy in the day time. I edit then, which is easy work to pick up and put down for an hour or two. Not like the actual writing of a book which is intense work I cant interrupt. In fact, I take very little vacation. Usually less than 2 weeks a year, or about that. 1 week in July to be with my 5 youngest children on holiday somewhere with a beach, 5 days at Christmas at home, and about 3 days for my birthday, when all my kids come home. And my kids are VERY generous to spend a week of their vacations with me in July, a long weekend for my birthday, and Christmas week with me. And it’s very very very rare for me to take a weekend off, most of the time, I write on weekends too. I like staying busy, and filling my time, and I write a lot.
A comment on my Instagram caught my attention this week, which startled me. It said “It must be nice to be able to fly around all the time”. Hmm….fly around all the time? Do I? I did before Covid, but much less so now, given the risks of travel, airports, etc. And then I realized that the comment isn’t wrong. It’s not easy once children have grown up and gone, and being alone without a partner—-a double whammy. Both of my homes are full of empty bedrooms where my children used to live, and I’m happy to say I still have one daughter at home, although she leads a full busy life of her own. But I realized that the comment is true. There are more downsides than upsides to being alone, but the fact is that the only schedule I have to check is my own (and my kids if I want to visit them). If I am longing to see my children, I can get on a plane and go to see them. If one of them has a problem, I can be there as fast as air travel will allow. If I wanted to take a vacation alone, I could—though that has no appeal to me at all. I work hard, which allows me the luxury to travel, even if I have books to write and deadlines, and I work hard, and only take two weeks off a year. In France, people get five weeks of vacation a year by law, and if they have school aged children, they take school vacations too, which gives them months of vacation every year, not weeks. the French have more paid vacation than any country in the world, although I don’t. But the fact is that I don’t have to consult anyone’s schedule but my own and my kids, and my writing deadlines, and I can fly to see them when I want to. And because I work incredibly hard, I can afford to get on a plane and go when I want to. So the comment wasn’t wrong, and it is nice to fly around when you want to. There is no boss or partner to stop me or tell me I cant go. My natural innate work ethic and discipline make me feel guilty whenever I take time off—but the truth is that I’ve earned it, I deserve it. I publish 7 books a year, and I have always been a full time presence in my children’s lives. But I always feel somewhat guilty when I take “time off”, and think I should be working when I’m having fun. But yes, it is nice to be able to pick up and go whenever I want. It’s one of the advantages of being my own boss, although I am a hard taskmaster with myself, and don’t give myself a lot of free time. There is always something I think I should be doing. I’m not good at just sitting around, or even relaxing. And I love my work and my kids, so time with either one always seems well spent.
So “Gone Fishing” doesn’t really apply to me. And for now, I’ll stick to my two weeks of vacation per year. And the rest of the time, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, writing and visiting my kids, wherever they are, and flying around to see them. I don’t like travelling or vacationing alone. I’m not adventurous about exotic travel, and it’s not fun taking vacations alone. But yes, it IS nice being able to fly around whenever you want. and maybe one day, I’ll take more than just two weeks off per year. But not just yet!!!
Have a great week, doing fun things, and whatever you love to do. For now, I’ll try to take a few more days off during the year, just for fun….I’m working on it….