Toxic Marriage, Served with Contempt

My daughters gaped, open-mouthed, at the histrionic couple dining at the adjacent table. We were in France, at an auberge in the Dordogne during my annual single-mom summer trip. The intimate dining room overlooking an ancient mill was frigid with cheerless couples purportedly enjoying celebratory anniversary and birthday dinners of foie gras and duck confit, but each unhappier than the last. Kids are sponges, soaking up tidbits of relational distress. They are not above gawking at fighting couples, nor are they immune to the subtler cues of relational frigidity; a husband’s pontifications about a wine’s terroir- tedious and unappreciated. His…

On Family Vacations, Build Boredom into the Itinerary

Rain slashes the windows and the cloudy French sky is heavy with foggy mist.  Our planned horseback ride through the Dordogne countryside is out of the question today, so my two daughters and I are cuddled up in our little 3 bedroom camping chalet near Sarlat la Caneda, each to her own quietude. One girl is facetiming with a friend in California, the other is cozied up in her bed, listening to an audiobook and drawing.  I am enjoying an unexpected pause in our nonstop 6 Week Single Mom European Adventure.  We could be busy exploring myriad castles, prehistoric cave…

Where to Stay on the Costa Brava, with Kids

The Costa Brava is a glorious morsel of Spanish coastline, stretching 85 miles from the French border down almost to Barcelona. Dotted with tiny, picturesque fishing villages, quiet calas, and peaceful, rocky coves, it is an ideal Spanish family travel destination.  However, the most beautiful and interesting section is the 35 miles between Begur and Tossa de Mar.  All of my recommended family beaches are here, as well as the gorgeous seaside village of Tossa de Mar. Book your hotel or Airbnb within this stretch.  I made the mistake of staying way up in San Pedro Pescador, which is close to…

Staying Sane While Single Mom Traveling with Kids

It’s the end of week two of my six week Europe trip, and I started going a little nuts today.  I realized I hadn’t had an adult conversation in days, except for hijacking my daughter’s facetime session with her friend in Melbourne so I could talk her mom, who is a dear friend of mine.  We couldn’t really talk, because both of our daughters were squashed against us, trying to get into the video.  It’s been a little lonely. Texting, calling, sexting needs to happen when you are traveling as a solo mom for 6 weeks.  Like, seriously.  You will…

How to Pack for a 6 Week, 5 Country Adventure with Kids

There are two forms of travel:  “First Class”, or “With Children”. Watching harried parents placate exhausted kids while they wait at the baggage carousel after an 11 hour flight will make you question ever travelling with offspring. There are ways to make traveling with kids easier though.  Whether I’m sending the kids to grandma’s house for the weekend, or packing up for a 6 week European summer vacation, each person is allotted 1 carry on roller and 1 backpack.  Nothing is checked in, ever. Checking in luggage is a hassle.  Not only do you have to wait in long bag-drop…

Family Style Hell

Our most recent family adventure took us to Kings Canyon National Park for the girls February break (somewhat obnoxiously dubbed “Ski Week” by wealthy Silicon Valley parents with ski cabins). The lodge I chose caters to families, and I was the only single mom there for the 4 days.  It was great for people watching, as all meals are served Family Style at communal tables, and there is really just one central space where everyone gathers multiple times a day. In the 4 days I was there, I witnessed constant bickering, passive aggressive contempt, disrespect, and outright anger between couples….