It is not entirely unusual for me to travel without my children. While I can’t say I travel often, on my own, my life as an expat means that many of my oldest friends live far away from me and meeting up with them involves some sort of international journey.
The easiest and cheapest way to meet is for one of us to visit the other, but sometimes we decide that the cost of a shared hotel room is an acceptable price to pay for a holiday together and we pick a neutral place, usually a city in Europe with
great food loads of culture.
My first weekend away with a friend saw us in a city that needs no introduction and that I have always loved: Paris.
Many feelings rushed through my head when making that first booking for a girlie getaway: anticipation for seeing my friend, excitement for going to such a beautiful city, a bit of apprehension about leaving the kids and a tingle of worry about missing them. But among all of these emotions, there was one that was missing: mom guilt.
When you have children, especially when you are pregnant with your first one, you are likely to read A LOT of material about parenting and what jumps out of almost all manuals is how mothers seem to live in a constant state of guilt: they feel guilty about working, guilty for not working, guilty for wearing make-up and therefore ‘being self-absorbed’, guilty for not wearing make up and ‘letting themselves’ go. Many a chapter have also been written about taking time off: according to literature, travelling alone seemed, for a mother, a sure way to trigger awful complexes of self indulgence and what is usually known as mom guilt.
Leaving mom guilt behind: why I am not a bad mom
I do unfortunately sometimes fall into these self-indulgence traps and I was expecting to have to fight guilt to enjoy my time in Paris. But mom guilt did not come. Nor guilt about not feeling any guilt (which is a funny one, but does exist).
When I was there I missed my kids, I thought about them, I sometimes found myself turning to hold their hand before crossing a road, but I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt.
Being the over thinking person that I am, I asked myself why I was feeling that way and soon I found my answer. While the title of this post talks about ‘mamma going to Paris’, the person who went to Paris wasn’t mamma: it was me. And ‘me ‘ is a mum, but is also someone who has travelled all her life, very often alone or with friends and who had been to Paris before and loved Paris before. And this is what hit me most of all: the absolute normality of me travelling with a friend, the joy of doing it and the overwhelming gratefulness towards life for allowing me to have these wonderful experiences. I didn’t feel mom guilt not because I am a bad mom, but because there was nothing to feel guilty about: the kids were having a ball with dad and grandparents and I was seeing a friend – where’s the guilt in that?
Leaving mom guilt behind: Paris highlights
The fact that I felt so at peace with this trip didn’t mean that I didn’t catch myself noticing the differences between this weekend and the ones I spent on city breaks with my family. Almost all we did was, in some measure or another, different from what I would have done with the kids and I always made a mental note of it. I’ll give you some examples.
We stayed in a boutique hotel, in a tiny and overly decorated, luscious room with a full sized apple computer stuffed with cool music that no, did not include the Peppa pig soundtrack (if you want to check it out, it’s called Hotel Design Sorbonne and it’s lovely)
We cheered with champagne in a cool cafe called Schmuck, near l’Odeon, enjoying how intimate the whole place felt – note as I use the word ‘intimate’ and not the mummy version of it: unacceptably small and buggy-unfriendly, which is a very positive note for a place that is most definitely not geared towards kids
We had meals in restaurants without checking if they had high chairs available: a lovely one we tried on our first night was called Zo, behind Place de la Concorde
We went to the Louvre and visited the parts that interested us, without asking ourselves if they were ‘entertaining’
We sought out heights on the top of the Institut du Monde Arabe and had coffee in the always wonderful place de la Contrescarpe (and in the Latin Quarter and in le Marais and pretty much anywhere else).
We took long walks in the dark
and we chilled out in the sun, taking in the beauty of the place, thinking we should work more on our French and we should keep up this new tradition of friends weekends away. We even took pictures of the famous locks and thought about our loved ones – because Paris is always Paris and love there, for friends, kids and our other halves, is always in the air. Even when we are momentarily away from them.
If you have more time to spend in Paris, check out also this 4 day Paris itinerary
Do you ever take some prolonged time for yourself and do you experience mummy (or daddy!) guilt? I’d love if you could share your experience in the comments!