We love Mom, but don't want her going with us on vacation.
December 21, 2007 9:32 AM   Subscribe

How can we avoid hurting my Mom's feelings? Or should we take her with us?

Our daughter will be spending her next college semester studying abroad, in Madrid. My wife and I have been planning a trip to see her.A small portion of our time there would be spent with our daughter, but most of the time it would just be me and my wife, exploring Spain as a couple. We plan to spend our time there walking miles through Madrid's streets, tourist attractions and museums.

Here's the problem: My elderly mother overheard us planning the trip and said, "I want to go with you!" We politely said okay at the time, but then had serious second thoughts.

My wife and I take one major trip a year. We feel that the time we spend together on these trips is crucial to the maintenance of a healthy marriage. It's OUR time to get away and reconnect, and we guard it jealously. Having Mom along would change the trip completely.

And yet... My Mom is elderly and we don't know how many more years we'll have with her. All of us love her with all our hearts. She's a wonderful person and we enjoy spending time with her. She desperately wants to visit our daughter in Spain, but she's frail and could never manage a trip like this on her own.

Are we being unreasonably selfish; should we relent and take her with us? If not, how can we handle this sticky situation without hurting my Mom's feelings?
posted by capcuervo to Human Relations (54 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
take her with you, really. elderly people, when happy and motivated, can show incredible stamina. consult her doctor and if the doctor says she can, take her.
posted by matteo at 9:34 AM on December 21, 2007

Does she have a friend that can go with her? That way she won't be with you all the time.
posted by Gungho at 9:35 AM on December 21, 2007

Maybe she would be interested in going with you and visiting your daughter, but not the additional exploration? She could always go home earlier, leaving you some time alone with your wife.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:38 AM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

I would take her. For the reasons you listed (assuming she's up for it physically).
posted by frobozz at 9:39 AM on December 21, 2007

I'd say take her with you, but maybe work something out a little differently for her - she can visit with the daughter when you do, and perhaps then stay someplace for the rest of the time you guys are out and about traveling around.

it really depends on her condition, can she walk? Is she functional on her own?
Could she enjoy a few days on her own?

There may be a way to integrate her into the trip w/o disrupting your time...

The friend suggestion is a great one!

I think it would be a bad idea to give up what you're hoping to do with your wife - but at the same time not bringing her maybe something you regret when she's gone....

meeting in the middle might be the best way
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:40 AM on December 21, 2007

You aren't being selfish.

I have been on vacation with my parents. It was fun, but not the same as going with just my wife. You will not have 'couple time' and will always be concerned with your mother.

Worse, if you mother picks up on your frustration, it will make it bad for her as well.
posted by Argyle at 9:40 AM on December 21, 2007

Can you have her travel separately to meet you during the time you're spending with your daughter? If a trusted relative gets her on the plane and then you meet it, would she be able to handle the long flight alone?

This way she can see Spain and her granddaughter for a few days without changing the scope of your time alone together.
posted by hermitosis at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Take her with you to visit your daughter. Take her with you to see a few beautiful sights for a few days. Then drive her to the airport, send her home, (have someone meet her at the other end) and continue with your vacation, getting your "couple" time. She might even understand this and be OK with it.
posted by molasses at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ideal is you go, your mother meets you there later and leaves before you do.
posted by A189Nut at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2007

Have you asked your daughter for her opinion? Is she particularly close to your mother? I ask because of this:

My Mom is elderly and we don't know how many more years we'll have with her. All of us love her with all our hearts. She's a wonderful person and we enjoy spending time with her. She desperately wants to visit our daughter in Spain, but she's frail and could never manage a trip like this on her own.

I recently lost my grandmother, and this part of your question screamed out to me. I'm so sorry to add an additional angle of guilt to a difficult decision, but the time you have with an elderly relative -- especially one who is still well enough to even consider international travel -- is so, so precious.

I'd say make an exception this year. Perhaps the two of you could take a smaller, separate trip later to check the "get away and reconnect" box?
posted by somanyamys at 9:45 AM on December 21, 2007

If your trip was originally planned for two weeks, why not have your mother come along for just the first week? Then, you can really enjoy showing your mom around, and she can enjoy seeing her grandkid, then after you send her home, you can reconnect with your wife.
posted by pdb at 9:54 AM on December 21, 2007

Nthing taking her along for at least a portion of your trip. Your couple time is important, but it sounds as if you may always regret not having her taken her along in years to come. Make yourself happy now and in the future.
posted by maudlin at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2007

I vote for TAKE HER. She said she wants to go. You all love her and enjoy spending time with her. Make the trip your Christmas present to her - a great gift of time spent with the people she loves best. No sweater (even cashmere!), DVD set or kitchen gadget would come close to a gift like this. This is such a special thing to get to do - 3 generations of your family on this fabulous adventure together.

Take next year's trip with your wife 6 months early or take a couple of long weekends together this year to get in that couple time. It doesn't sound like your marriage hinges on this one trip this one year. Let grandma see her granddaughter nearly all grown up, navigating a foreign country on her own, having the pleasure of being the leader for a few days.

How much fun would you have if you left her at home, knowing this was her one chance to do this with you? Think of the pictures and memories you'll enjoy for years to come. Think about how great it will be for her to look at the pictures, show them to her friends and tell them about her exotic trip. You have the chance to make someone really happy. Do it!
posted by Kangaroo at 10:06 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

First, you said "OK" when she asked. You have made a promise with that.

We took my wife's 89 year old grandmother with us on a 5 day trip from Michigan to California for her great grandson's wedding. Was it difficult? Sure. But, she enjoyed the trip. We had to make some provisions for transportation, wheel chairs, and alternative arrangements when the activity was beyond her physical abilities..

But, she saw family she'll never see again, attended a great grandchild's wedding (her first time to do that), visited someplace she hadn't been in 25 years....

Take her... you and your wife will continue to have opportunities to spend time with each other.
posted by HuronBob at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2007

Are we being unreasonably selfish; should we relent and take her with us?

Yes, sort of disgustingly so. And yes.

You're considering dumping your "old, frail" mother because she might cramp your fun, and looking for support?

That is so not cool.
posted by rokusan at 10:16 AM on December 21, 2007

Take her with you, at least for some of the trip. It's additional effort, both mental and otherwise, but it will be worth it (especially if you have a good relationship with her already).

My wife and I spent three weeks in Greece this fall, visiting her family. Her parents were there (from Jersey) and my folks came as well (from Massachusetts) -- it had its "National Lampoon" moments and included a component of family stress management that wouldn't have been there if it was just the two of us, but it was entirely worth it.

Having said that, a few days (or more!) alone would be wonderful as well. If you can make it happen, don't hesitate to do it. It'll be a wonderful treat for mother as well, to visit her granddaughter in Europe.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:17 AM on December 21, 2007

I understand why everyone is suggesting that you not miss the opportunity to vacation with her, but I also feel very strongly that your desire to have just you time with your spouse is incredibly important and totally understandable. It's probable you won't have the opportunity for more such trips with your mother, but your relationship with your spouse is important too. My inclination is to err on the side of the spousal time - there are many demands on a marriage. I know that's the unpopular voice here, but there you have it.

An older frail lady may not REALLY enjoy walking through the heat in Spain (depends on your Mom I suppose). Maybe there is another trip you could all take together, to be planned together for after your daugher's return? Maybe, if you talk a little with your Mom, you'll find she wants to go but doesn't REALLY intend to go. It's possible worrying is for naught, that if it comes to making plans you can suggest another vacation (modest) that might be a better fit for all those involved.

I just don't think this has to be cast in terms of unending guilt or regret if Mom doesn't come on this particular trip.
posted by bunnycup at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2007

Twenty years ago, when I was living in Caracas, my parents came to visit and brought my grandmother along. That trip worked out great for everyone. A few years later one of my sisters was living in Japan, and my parents went to visit, and again took my grandmother along. At some point lines of communication got crossed, and my grandmother came to expect that my parents would take her along with them whenever they went anywhere interesting. It became a really delicate subject that required much diplomacy to unwind my grandmother's expectations without hurting her feelings.

Note that my grandmother is still alive and doing well, and if my parents had been guilted into taking her along on every single trip over the last 20 years that would have been a very unhappy thing for them. It's true you don't know how much time you have left with her, but if you choose to bring her along, be mindful of creating expectations for the future.
posted by ambrosia at 10:21 AM on December 21, 2007

take her and put her on the plane early.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:27 AM on December 21, 2007

My grandmother died the day I was supposed to leave for my spring semester in Madrid. That sucked. After that, no one in the family managed to visit me when I was abroad. Yes I'm biased, but I say take her.

Also, assuming your daughter is there between January and May like I was, the weather never gets hot, so walking in the heat won't be an issue. If anything it will be on the chilly side until April or so.
posted by infinityjinx at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2007

Personally, I'd take Mom and make this vacation about reconnecting with *her*. I think it's great that you make sure to have that time with your wife - my father-in-law passed on the same wisdom at my wedding - but the truth is, you most likely have all the time in the world to vacation with your wife. I'd immediately start planning at least a weekend getaway of some kind, so you still get your relationship time, but look at this trip to Spain as an opportunity to really enjoy your mother's company outside of the ritualized interactions you've probably fallen into in your daily life.

With all that said, I heartily endorse splitting the trip in two parts (with and without Mom) if at all possible. Also, make sure you get everything out on the table ahead of time - explain to her that you will need a few days with just your wife, doing your walking tours & the like. Perhaps Mom is not a morning person, and you can divide the days. Or maybe she'll want to go to bed early, and you can enjoy the nightlife. If you make your needs & desires clear from the start, and commit to really enjoying your mother's company, I see no reason why this trip couldn't be one of your most wonderful family experiences.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lots of people will argue this with me here, but here I go anyway:

We move out from our parent's house for a good reason. In your case you connected with someone else, created offspring, etc. You should take care of her, but not be held hostage by it. It comes up with me a lot, but having maintained my marriage successfully since 1992 in a world surrounded by divorce, I feel that I have some merit in keeping my parent's expectations at bay. My mother wants to go out for lunch, be a part of various things, etc as well. However, you can't sacrifice the marriage you have to please her. So what if she doesn't get to go the Madrid? Billions of people don't.

I have to handle it with the kids as well, we sum it all up in "date nite" or "another honeymoon". Everyone gets the point.

If worse comes to worse, ask her to stay near your daughter, while you two go off for "another honeymoon"
posted by Wismi at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2007

if i were you, i'd tell her my intentions for the trip ("she and i planned this to be our special time to be alone..."), and then suggest an alternative way to spend some quality, vacation-like time with your mother.
posted by entropone at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2007

Be generous with Mom, but also go in with extreme planning and caution. As mentioned, Spain is very accomplished at heat and humidity. And cobblestone streets that are exceptionally unforgiving for feet and ankles that aren't used to significant time on said feet and ankles on uneven surfaces. Trust me on this one.
It's a very long story. Just trust me.

I'm also assuming that Mom is not fluent in Spanish. If she is, and if she is so inclined, there's a possibility to sit on benches in the plazas and connect with the locals while you and your wife explore elsewhere. Which I myself would find incredibly interesting and wonderful, but doesn't float everyone else's boat, and may not be entirely appropriate for old frail Mom, now that I actually think about this. Sigh.
posted by LoraxGuy at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2007

Bring your mom to visit her granddaughter. And then extend the vacation for you and your wife alone, explaining to your mom that it's your annual honeymoon. Ahem.

/I've traveled overseas with my mom. At the time, I was in my late twenties and she was in her late sixties. It was wonderful to share the experience with her, but it was a lot of work for me. I don't regret doing it, but did rather need a vacation afterwards.
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2007

One more vote for taking Mom for a portion of the trip. Doing something nice for someone you love is quite often the right thing to do, and will make you feel better in the long run.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on December 21, 2007

As a younger person who recently studied abroad, it would have meant a lot to me to share that experience with beloved grandparents. Would your daughter feel the same way? I know you don't want added guilt, but it's something to think about.
posted by ohio at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2007

I don't actually know the answer here - but I can tell you this: don't let ANYONE tell you that it's "less" important to have private time away to reconnect with your partner. That is NOT selfish -- indeed, it's absolutely crucial to the survival of any marriage. If you do decide to take mom on the trip, make sure you carve the time out elsewhere - during the trip or sometime else in the year - to reconnect with your spouse, regardless of what other priorities or responsibilities you may have. And bravo to you for considering the health of your marriage - those that don't, often find themselves without one (she says, speaking from experience).
posted by twiki at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2007

Nthing offering to bring Mom for part of the trip, but leaving the "romantic trip abroad" time for you and your wife. She should understand. Maybe she spends a couple of extra days with your daughter while you and your wife are exploring Europe.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:06 AM on December 21, 2007

My wife and I take one major trip a year.

Then you have years left for trips, but not much time to spend with mom. Make some time, you might miss once she's gone. Take her for part of the trip then have you and the wife jet off somewhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:13 AM on December 21, 2007

You said "OK" when she asked. What's the question?
posted by tristeza at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2007

I vote for having it both ways -- go for two weeks, bring her for one. This allows you to overtly declare your needs to be with just your spouse, and Grandma still gets to have a good time without having her feelings hurt.

(Bring Grandma for the first week, not the second...you may need to exhale, and this gives you a chance to do so.)
posted by diastematic at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2007

Don't take her if you don't want to! There are a lot of ways to let people down easy and I am sure she wouldn't want to come along if she thought she was intruding. If she doesn't mind coming along even if she's an intrusion, you DEFINITELY don't want her along!
posted by MiffyCLB at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2007

I like to think about the future, and what choice I will most regret having made.

So, imagine for a moment it is 5 or 10 years down the line, and your Mom is gone. What will you most regret?

Taking her, or compromising your vacation?

I know it sounds like I'm setting you up to just say "I'll regret not taking her", but I'm serious. Look at it objectively. Will you be upset about having left her? How much enjoyment do you think she'll get out of the trip?
posted by aleahey at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

She desperately wants to visit our daughter in Spain, but she's frail and could never manage a trip like this on her own.

Take her. And hope and pray that your kids are willing to sacrifice for your benefit when YOU'RE the old and gray one that would like to go abroad but no longer can.
posted by Malor at 12:00 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

My dad took my grandfather (deaf and sort of a very nice grump) to Ireland with him and my brother a couple of years back. I think my grandfather complained pretty much the whole time and my dad and him fought quite a bit. And yet when my grandfather was dying he mentioned it many times to my dad, how much he enjoyed going with him. My grandfather was kind of a hard guy to get along with, even though he was good intentioned. I think my dad is very glad that he took my grandfather. I wish I had gone too.
posted by sully75 at 12:00 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

I'm going to buck the majority a bit in this one, in that I'm not automatically saying "take her!!!", as so many people seem to be.

Yeah, you said "yes" initially, and that needs to be considered, but also the question of (as many have asked) how much your mother would enjoy the trip, with the heat/humidity/mobility issues/language barrier/etc. (several people also said "send her home early"--if she's really quite frail, is this even an option? Negotiating overseas travel can be tiring and confusing even for the young.) There's also the fact that this was intended to be a solitary trip for you and your wife, and, as also mentioned above, that sort of thing is very important in a relationship, is not to be taken lightly, and is NOT selfish.

I may be labelled as cruel for bringing this up, but your mother essentially also invited herself. You didn't suggest that she come, she overheard a conversation between you and your wife, interjected herself, and put you in a position where it would be very difficult to say no without hurting her feelings.

If I were you, I would enumerate all the reasons above (well, except the last one, unless she's an extremely objective person) as explanations as to why you don't think it's the greatest idea. Emphasise her potential enjoyment, or lack thereof, as the principal concern if necessary. Or, explain to her what you've planned--a lot of walking, a lot of romantic outings, a lot of things that would be tiring or difficult for an older person. Then offer to take her on a different trip somewhere--a trip that's planned as family time, as opposed to couple time. Someplace with more moderate weather, perhaps, and no language barrier. There must be a lot of other places in the world she'd like to see, places she's always wanted to go, places that would be better able to facilitate going about with an older person.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 12:48 PM on December 21, 2007

You aren't being disgustingly selfish. You've got to live your own life. Time with mom is incredibly special, limited and important - and if you recognize that, you'll be on the right path. Don't take mom for granted, but don't feel the need to include her in every trip. So you accidentally told her she could come, while you were up against a wall. You'll figure a way to squirm out of that.

Your title answers your own question.
posted by thejoshu at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2007

I don't think there's much chance of backing out of this without hurting your mothers feelings (and just as important, probably causing her great disappointment). It isn't just that you might not have too many years left with your mother: she doesn't have too many years left. These years are literally her last chance to do things like this. She's probably never going to be less frail than she is now.

Your desire for couple time is totally reasonable and you should be able to talk not just to your mother but your daughter about it, I bet everyone will understand and be eager to help work things out. I know it can't match the "us" time of just you two traveling. But there are lots of possibilities, side trips within the trip for just you two, while your daughter or ?? accompany your mother; touristy day experiences for your mother with the same people, or solo? An ideal would be if she could return alone early and give you an abbreviated but genuinely independent vacation together.

A big part of why I feel this way is because you did say yes to her initially. I don't know if telling someone they can accompany you on a trip can be passed off as mere politeness, I have to assume your mother took it as a yes and is expecting to go. It would be a genuine sacrifice for you and probably more of one for your wife (a fact to be sensitive to). It would also be a very kind act and a selfless one. It would also mean something for your daughter. I lost a real connection with my grandparents when my family moved across the country, and I regret that now because they are all gone and there are no more chances for me to know them or them to know me. I really value the memory of the few meaningful, in-person interactions I had with them after I hit college age.
posted by nanojath at 12:59 PM on December 21, 2007

Emphasise her potential enjoyment, or lack thereof, as the principal concern if necessary.

If you go this route (and I honestly wouldn't disrespect you if you did), I think you have to make your explanation be about YOUR wanting to be alone, not HER actually having a good time. Because she can argue about the latter a lot easier, and any way it makes it "her fault" she can't come, which seems ultimately more hurtful to me.

But I think luke parker's point about your mother "inviting herself" is a sound one, that makes me reconsider at least somewhat my assertion about the significance of your intitial agreement.
posted by nanojath at 1:06 PM on December 21, 2007

She overheard you planning the trip and basically invited herself along?

Maybe you could plan a smaller scale trip with your mom sometime next year with everyone knowing that'll be the case from the start. Otherwise if you bring her on this trip, you might feel kind of resentful that your couples time is taking a hit and make the whole thing strained.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:13 PM on December 21, 2007

Perhaps I should have previewed before posting that comment I wrote an hour ago. But it stands, now basically as agreement with the luke parker fiasco.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:15 PM on December 21, 2007

I understand your trepidation. I had a variation on this situation once, and realized that part of the problem was that I was acting like the parent and treating my 75 year old parents like children (and assuming total responsibility for them and their enjoyment). Drained the bejeezus out of me and filled me with resentment until I realized they may seem frail, but they are adults and I needed to start treating them as if I understood that.

That is, we needed to have a few conversations to clarify what each of us wanted out of the vacation. It sounds (like me) as if you're concerned that you will have to care for your mom extensively, really reducing your time to relax and engage each other.

So, I think if your mom comes along, it needs to be contingent on her being willing to have a conversation. Your mother expressed a desire (to go), but I don't think you should be beholden to it if it really doesn't make sense.

I say you and your wife come up with a list of pros, cons and concerns (including the ones that some may see as 'selfish', like the fact that you expected to spend time together alone, and that's important to you).

The question is whether or not your mother is willing to take responsibility for the decision to come. Does she have ideas about how to manage the travel? As others have mentioned, is she aware of the heat, food issues, etc? Does she care?

For example, I incorrectly 'overscheduled' my parent's trip to San Francisco- they wanted to breakfast together, go for a little walk, nap, read in the sunshine, and meet up together for dinner. Or not. In short, traveling was enjoyable but tiring, and they weren't all that keen on seeing me all day either. They were just trying to be nice about it because I had gone ahead and planned everything because I was trying to entertain them based on what I *thought* they wanted.

The result? I never planned the stuff I wanted to so, and became resentful, and then felt guilty. They felt annoyed because I was vibing a 'you better enjoy this cable car tour/museum visit/quality time together damnit'. They were also tired, because I was treking them all over the city, until they rebelled (thank the gods!).

So I guess the point of this long message is to not be that person. Listen to reluctant voices in your head and your concerns, and honor and deal with them.

Can you ask her how she envisions the trip - what does she see herself doing on the trip (spending every waking moment with you? or perhaps something else?) Can you share with her what you envisioned doing (hiking?) and see what her thoughts are? Can you ask her if she thinks that a week is really enough time to see parts of Spain and her granddaughter? If she could pick 2 things to see or do in Spain, what they would be? She may not have answers, but ask her to think about it, and share yours so you can each set expectations.

Then you can see if what the reality is - rather than what you fear it might be - is something you can live with on vacation. And all of the great ideas of taking her for part of the week where you will see your daughter - going with her to see the part of Spain she wants to see, etc. will fall into place because they make sense.

Or, at least, if you refuse to take her along, it will be based on solid reasoning, which is that she is not being realistic or an active part of the planning process, taking responsibility for her own experience.

Good luck!
posted by anitanita at 1:35 PM on December 21, 2007 [8 favorites]

anitanita said what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently. I'm surprised by how many responses here are all about making you feel guilty. You should be honest with your mother and let her know why you feel trepidation about the group trip. If you do want to find a way to make it work, then brainstorm what it might look like -- maybe she spends time with your daughter for a bit, while you and the wife go exploring together. Or as others suggested, maybe she comes for part of the trip.

But there's no reason to feel guilty about wanting time with your wife.
posted by rouftop at 1:52 PM on December 21, 2007

Could you schedule your trip so that it coincides with your daughter's spring break, and then she could travel with her grandmother while you two travel on your own? Or could you possibly book her into a tour group for seniors for the part of the time the family isn't all together?
posted by Salamandrous at 1:54 PM on December 21, 2007

You don't just need time to reconnect with your spouse but with your daughter too. She's having this huge adventure trying out a new life and is willing to share it with you, that's very cool. So make sure you talk with her about it too. I know if it was me overseas (which is likely in the next five years) and my parents announced 'by the way we're bringing Grandma' then invitations would be rescinded all round. Admittedly my family history may not be typical (we've had issues recently with family inviting themselves places and I hate it plus I greatly dislike my Grandma), but still, adding an older person to the trip changes things for your daughter just as much as for you.

I do, however, like the idea of taking her for part of the trip. She wouldn't be able to make a trip like this otherwise and it's likely that all of you will value the time spent with her. Let her be part of the big overseas adventure. But it would be good to also have both time with just your spouse as planned and also time with just your daughter too. You could easily have your mother there for the first part, send her home possibly after a few days with just her and your daughter (give her her own little adventure without you), go off with your spouse then come back to your daughter for a day or two before you fly home yourself. Your mother will remember and talk about this trip for the rest of her years, splitting it up will only increase the things for you all to discuss.

Good luck, family politics are always hard!
posted by shelleycat at 1:58 PM on December 21, 2007

Take her for part of the trip.

- What are her habits? If she goes to sleep earlier than you, you've got romantic nights out even when she's there. In any case you should stay in separate rooms.

- What about your daughter? I'm guessing she'd be touched to have her grandmother there (scratch this if I'm wrong). They could certainly spend some 1-on-1 time together. They could take a day-trip to a nearby city. You've said you're not going to devote much time to your daughter, so your mother could take over the job of pampering her.

- Work in a trip to somewhere far (Andalucia, Barcelona) alone for the second week?

- Use this as a chance to be a role model for your daughter ;-)

- Is your mother not the sort of person who'd understand if you told her about the secondary reason for the trip? (Don't be remotely all "you'd cramp our style," though! That'd be as bad as not bringing her.) Also, she might even prefer a short visit for herself.

- You give a week of your time and inject a lot of magic into at least one person's life. That's a rare opportunity.

Anyway, take her. To me it seems like the adult thing to do. Just do it with style.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 2:43 PM on December 21, 2007

Absolutely do the following, assuming money, scheduling and her health isn't an issue:

#1. Explain to her that you want to split the trip between seeing your daughter, spending time together as a couple, and spending time with her;

#2: Discuss, and come to an agreement that either she should bring a friend and you should establish you-and-your-wife alone time such that they can schedule tours and stuff, or that her time there should be shorter than yours;

#3: In the future, do not discuss travel plans in front of relatives who might ask to go, because you'll never be in the position to say "er, no" without potentially offending that person;

#4: Make more time for you and your wife in the future, and make more time for your mom in the future now that you know she'll enjoy spending more time with you.

I hope you all enjoy the trip, and future time together!
posted by davejay at 2:44 PM on December 21, 2007

I really love anitanita's answer, giving you so many things to discuss with your mother about the trip. Involving your mother in a serious discussion will be good for all of you. I also am really touched that you'd bring her (even reluctantly) because it would mean so much to her.

When my grandmother was dying of Alzheimer's, she was mired in a cloud of confusion, but talked frequently of her only trip to Europe. That trip was such a magical memory for her. And helping her see your daughter, all grown up and living in Spain, is also just so touching. I know you're conflicted about it, but gosh, it just makes me glow all over that you'd seriously consider it, and I personally hope that you'll take her.

I also agree that if you can manage to have her return after a week, that would be nice too, so you get the best of both worlds, and so she's not exhausted by two weeks of foreign travel. Some airlines are very good about assisting the elderly with their special needs. Maybe that is one way to get her home alone.
posted by Capri at 3:39 PM on December 21, 2007

I don't like the idea of taking her for part of the trip and then sending her home by herself. She's elderly and an easy target for muggers/thieves. International airports are confusing enough for younger people with quick reflexes, imagine how daunting they are for an older person. And so many people are single-mindedly intent on catching their flight, not caring who they push, shove or knock over. You don't want Mom breaking a hip on her way home.

Either take her or don't, but please don't have her travel solo anywhere.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:46 PM on December 21, 2007

My wife and I are stunned by the volume and thoughtfulness of the responses left here. We're still struggling with a decision on how to handle this, but thank you all for taking the time to give your input.
posted by capcuervo at 8:56 PM on December 21, 2007

I'll piggyback a bit on shelleycat's comment, and suggest that you really get your daughter's feedback on this as well. Sure, grandma really wants to see her granddaughter, but is your daughter as hot on the idea? If she would love to see her grandmother, then yeah, scheduling time for her to, essentially "take grandma off your hands so you can have some alone time" is a great idea. But she's a young person (<2>
(For example, I'm several years older than your daughter's assumed age, and I love my 90-year-old great-aunt to death, but I really can't handle spending more than a couple of hours at a time with her. We don't have anything in common, not much to talk about after catching up on one another's lives, and thanks to her advanced years she has a tendency to repeat herself. Your daughter may not appreciate being expected to spend additional time with her grandmother, when she (daughter) herself only has a limited time to experience this new culture she's immersed in.)

Bottom line, everyone's going to have a bad time unless the three of you (you, your wife, and your daughter) are REALLY, genuinely happy about the idea of bringing grandma. It will make the trip more difficult for you and your wife, it will put unintended strain and expectation on your daughter, and i guarantee that your mother will pick up on it at some point or not. Would you rather cause her some initial disappointment, by explaining the reasons why this isn't the greatest trip for her to tag along on, or make her realise, during the travel, that she's inconveniencing everyone, and that she was brought along because nobody could figure out a polite way to say no?
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:05 PM on December 21, 2007

D'oh. Dunno how I managed to do that. Take two:

But she's a young person (under 21, I'm assuming), and regardless of how much she loves her, she may not be thrilled about the idea of entertaining her elderly grandmother in Spain. Plus, it seems like her understanding of the trip right now is "spending a couple of days with the parents" ... how will she feel if it suddenly becomes "spending a couple of days with the parents, and [insert timeframe here] of entertaining grandma"? It's entirely possible that she'll be less than pleased to find out that, instead of studying/working on group projects/hanging with friends/gallivanting around the city/doing whatever she usually does, she's looking after her grandmother and trying to figure out ways to entertain an elderly relative in a new city.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:12 PM on December 21, 2007

I don't like the idea of taking her for part of the trip and then sending her home by herself. She's elderly and an easy target for muggers/thieves. International airports are confusing enough for younger people with quick reflexes, imagine how daunting they are for an older person. And so many people are single-mindedly intent on catching their flight, not caring who they push, shove or knock over. You don't want Mom breaking a hip on her way home.

Nor do airports or airlines cause it causes them a lot of hassle. Thus they offer support for elderly people with poor mobility and will pick them up at check-in, take them through to the gate, put them onto the plane and let the cabin crew take over. The process is reversed the other end where somebody should meet her. You just have to highlight the need for this when you book her trip...
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:30 AM on December 22, 2007

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