Ranch - the cowboy set which made me wish I was with the kids; bottom
- the Getty Centre - which made glad to be on my own
Just because you love 'em doesn't
mean you can't leave 'em - at least for a little while
on the Run
other mums warned me.
On the first day, you will miss the children. On the second day,
you will miss the children and your husband. By the time you are flying
home on the aeroplane, you will be a nervous wreck because you just cant
wait to get home.
But here I was, stay-at-home mother of three, boarding a Virgin Atlantic
plane to Los Angeles, ostensibly to attend a dear friends wedding,
but with five days surplus to requirements. For the first time since I
got married, on holiday on my own.
Did I miss hubby and the kids while I was away? Lets say I didnt
spend much time pining for them. Did this make me a bad mother? I hope
not. Every stay at home mum (or dad for that matter) comes to the stage
where she needs time alone. I was rather pathetically looking forward
to the 12-hour flight with books to read, movies to watch and only my
long neglected thoughts for company. Besides, the neighbours were raring
to help, the three year old had an enviable social calendar, the ten year
old and the seven year old couldnt wait to go skateboarding with
Dad, and Dad himself knew the priorities (i.e. dont forget whos
By the time I was relaxing in my aisle seat with a chicken-flavoured pretzel
in one hand and the inflight video controls in the other, I had compiled
an agenda that ranged from doing Hollywood to breakfasting on American
Among others, these were on my wish list: a mall crawl in the land that
invented shopping malls; a studio tour (you had the pick of Warner Brothers,
NBC, and Universal Studios); a tour of the Getty Centre, LAs contribution
to modern architecture; some ogling of hard and soft bodies at a Babewatch-style
beach; anything to do with cowboys to satisfy a fascination that goes
back to a childhood of politically incorrect imaginary warmongering .
No Disneyland California Adventure. No Universal Studios.
I promised myself to keep things simple. No need to stick to the list.
Keep an open mind about destinations. No deadlines. No rushing around.
I do enough of that in the supermarket. I briefly thought of the kids
when I visited the delightful Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Griffith
Park. But watching families with small children zoom through the exhibition
while I read each and every notice and label with care made me feel very
The Autry Museum inspired an impromptu drive into the foothills of the
Santa Monica Mountains to Paramount Ranch (admission free), a 450-acre
movie set bought by Paramount Pictures in 1927 as a location for such
movies as The Cisco Kid. I arrived at the end of the day, it was off-season
and the place was deserted. I strolled between saloons, a hotel and even
a bank ripe for robbery as a big red sun hovered above the mountains nearby.
With a little bit of background music, I was ready to walk into the sunset.
In the privacy of my hotel room, I relished the simplest of luxuries postponed
by motherhood. Such as managing a good half hour of aerobics without a
toddler climbing on my back. Morning ablutions took a full hour more than
my usual five minutes, with none of the usual interruptions: mid-shower
telephone calls, small children wanting the potty, and shouting with a
mouth full of toothpaste at brothers bent on mutual GBH.
I am fully aware that it was escape rather than destination that thrilled
me about this holiday. But not being anyones mum for five days?
Now thats a real break.
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