Separated into different rooms, I could still hear Mom telling the massage therapist why we traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
“We came from Tulsa just to get these 90-minute massages,” she said. “It’s the centerpiece of our trip.”
My therapist overheard too. Mom doesn’t have the quietest of voices.
“You know, you don’t have to drive 2½ hours just to get a massage. There are a lot of good places in Tulsa,” she said.
“Yes, I do have to drive this far,” I explained.” If I were in Tulsa, I’d have to go home where there would be kids, meals to make, laundry to do, dishes to wash and work.
“Here, I can relax, sleep and enjoy the hospitality of a hotel and restaurant. Plus, I get Mom and my sister all to myself.”
This is the general goal of the regular trips we take. We’ve been making time for each other for at least a weekend for almost 25 years.
Traveling with parents should be on everyone’s to-do list. I never got to do this with Dad but feel blessed to have the chance with Mom and my sister.
We’ve always had fun, enjoying each other’s company. But as we’ve aged, these mini-vacations have become more important for our relationship and mental health.
It provides time away from the things causing us stress and worry, allows us to visit new and favorite locations and gives us time together.
There are some big stories (that get a little bigger each year) that we tell, like when Mom became a goofy fan girl when meeting Dan Rather in 2000 in New York City.
That was the trip where we went to the 8th-floor Macy’s Santaland, viewed holiday window displays and saw “Gore Vidal’s Best Man” on Broadway starring Chris Noth, Spalding Gray and Charles Durning.
That same trip we started a tradition of sharing a piece of cheesecake for dessert on our first night away.
Twelve years later, we discovered Mom’s fondness for Guinness while visiting Ireland. We explored Belfast, did a Dublin pub crawl and marveled at the countryside views. It was the year Mom turned 60, and I hit 40.
Those were our most exotic trips; most of our getaways are within a four-hour drive, only a couple of nights and focus on spa activities.
In Bentonville, Arkansas, we stumbled into its annual film festival, catching the sight of Harry Connick Jr. in the town square. A concert conducted by a cousin was the focus of a Wichita Falls, Texas, trip. A weekend during the Christmas season in Branson, Missouri, can be done as adults only.
One year was particularly busy with my sister and me figuring out life with little children and full-time jobs. So, Mom planned a two-night staycation at a hotel with a spa day.
I was technically only about a mile from home. But it was a treat eating at a restaurant without Crayolas at the front desk and watching a prime time drama instead of animation. It provided a chance to recharge.
Mom knew what her girls needed in that moment.
Each experience is a memory. Each conversation is something we learn from.
We get pedicures, shop, eat at fancy places, drink margaritas and just hang out. We do a lot of talking, from politics to recipes. Conversations meander in ways bringing laughter and tears.
Mom talks about her upbringing, her life’s lessons and dreams for her family. We reminisce, we vent, we rant, we bond.
Family vacations are fairly common, with about four in 10 Americans taking a trip together this year, according to AAA.
While I treasure time away with my kids and husband, there is something extra about these Mom trips.
Girlfriend getaways make up about 4% of travel, almost $200 million a year. About 24% of U.S. women have taken a girls trip in the past three years, and 39% plan to take one in the next three years, according to AAA Girlfriend Travel Research Project.
For a few years, I traveled with Dad’s two sisters and Mawmaw (my paternal grandmother). We went to Seattle, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.
Mawmaw and an aunt have died, but I have scrapbooks full of photos and recall details of what we did.
Mom never had the chance to have a solo girls weekend with her mother, so she pledged not to let the chance pass with her daughters.
For a few years, Mom and her four brothers would meet in Las Vegas with their spouses. My sister and I went a couple of times with our husbands.
Those stories will stay in Vegas.
But, at least two family members were asked to leave a Caesar’s Palace magic show; an uncle left us stranded on The Strip, and an aunt had a slot machine officially roped off because “it was hot.”
Taking trips as adults with parents isn’t like the old family trips growing up; it’s more rewarding.
There is still time left in the summer to plan time away with your parents. It will be worth it.
Planning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre history center