A bother of mothers hit the road
Boys have done it forever. Often progressing through the decades from road trips as teens, to football trips in their twenties, to golf trips forever after. But any old banner will do to justify a boys’ trip. The institution is deeply rooted in our culture. It’s even got its own code. Most of which I’m not privy to, though the overarching dictate that, “What Happens On The Trip Stays On The Trip”, has spread into general society.
There are many trailblazing female trippers, but in terms of cultural centrality the girls’ trip has some way to go by comparison. One type of girls’ trip that is clearly on the ascendant though, is the mothers’ trip.
What is the collective noun for a group of mothers? On my last mothers’ trip we suggested a “bother of mothers”. In any event, the principal impediment to a bother of mothers getting away together is usually finding people to take over the reins at home. A request for someone to look after young children “for a few hours” will often go unanswered, a request to look after them “for a few days” can clear the decks faster than a fire alarm.
Sole custody of someone else’s small child can be scary. Sole custody of your own child may be no less intimidating, especially if you’re not the stay at home parent. But sometime around when kids master vital life skills, like wiping their own bottom and putting on a DVD, potential long-haul minders among family and friends can start to come out of the woodwork.
Identifying someone suitable and willing to take your kids off your hands for a few days is like releasing weight from a hot air balloon – you bob upwards, feel the wind on your face, and regain your taste for flight. Mothers I know are taking to the concept of the mothers’ trip like inmates take to the concept of parole.
Travelling with friends puts relationships to the test - especially if your holiday objectives are not aligned. The miracle of mothers’ trips is that the participants can align their agendas without even speaking: sleeping, more sleeping, group shopping, pampering, drinking, extended forensic analysis of each other’s private lives and repeat. The mix can be tweaked but we’re all singing from the same wine list.
The only way to know how someone will perform under pressure is to see them in it. Presenting a proposal for a mothers’ trip to your significant other is a great way to determine how they would cope in a crisis. Although selling the idea to your domestic stakeholders might feel like selling BLTs in Tel Aviv, it is possible. It is possible because, contrary to what you may have heard, families do not run on love and trust, they run on barter and bribery.
Perhaps the exchange rate with your partner is as simple as 1 girls’ trip = 1 boys’ trip, or maybe it will take a bit more imagination. In any negotiation pertaining to a mothers’ trip though it is important not to lose sight of the fundamental selling point, which is that the whole family benefits. This is because mothers’ trips restore sanity and renew strengths. Evidence shows that while a partner may bid farewell to a mad cow he will welcome home the calm, tolerant goddess of love that he originally decided to shack up with.
As with boys’ trips, the destination for a mothers’ trip is largely irrelevant. This is because the group brings its own fun, and it isn’t what’s at the destination that matters, it’s what is not.
The hardest decision is how much help to arrange for those left at home. We are always saying that everyone has no idea how much we do for them, and one day we really want them to find out – well this is our big opportunity. But that approach is for amateurs. The aim of the game is to make it as painless as possible for all concerned, lest the first trip also be the last.
And always remember, when you return to find the 7 year old reading Best Bets; the 6 year old wearing what appears to be a groin torniquet but is in fact the 2 year olds’ underpants; and the 4 year old watching something involving dwarves but not Snow White, it’s all good – you got your trip.
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