I was going to work on a cruise ship to Alaska for an entire week by myself…sure looked good on paper. The plan was to relax, enjoy and recharge my Mommy batteries. The trick was to do all that and not feel sad, lonely or guilty.

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Now that Zeke is almost 2 (21 months), I felt like I could take a gig that was a week long so when the offer came in to work on NCL’s Ship, the “Sun” for a 7 day Alaskan cruise, Mark and I decided to make it work. He was knee-deep in a project for Disney so we’d need babysitters during the day. Normally, my Mom would step in to save the day, but she decided to wake up with Bell’s Palsy the week before I had to leave.  (Sheesh! You can just say, “No!” Ma…you don’t have to go to such drastic measures to get out of watching my kids!) We found 2 wonderful, loving and fun babysitters for the boys so that was a load off my mind. In fact, Mark came home the first night to find them all playing “bats”. Nate looked up at Mark and said, “Daddy? Can you go back to work…we’re not done playing yet.”

So, everything was taken care of before I left. Child care, clean house, clean laundry…so why did I feel so guilty? My head was screaming at me,  “This is your job…you’re making money for the family! Stop feeling bad…you can’t help it if your job DEMANDS that you live on the ship for a week without your family…” But my heart was screaming, “You selfish, horrible Mother…you left your husband and your babies home with strangers! How can you live with yourself?” I thought maybe if I spent the entire week working out at the ship’s gym, I would be doing something useful but not at all fun so the guilt would subside. I took 2 classes the first day. A pilates class that had me rolling all over the floor and a full-body workout class that made me do more squats then anyone should ever do in their entire life. The next day I felt like I had gone 22 rounds with Mike Tyson. My legs were so sore from squatting, I had to pee standing up. 2000 push ups had left my arms dangling like over-cooked noodles at my sides. Brushing my teeth or my hair was not an option. I just threw my toiletries onto the bed and rolled around on them hoping something would stick. To top off the whole thing…”FLOW” decided to take the cruise with me. I figured that was enough suffering and penance for being on a cruise ship without my family, so I tried to have some fun.

In addition to my shows, I was part of the "Liar's Club" game show with my new pal, JP (an amazingly funny magician) and my old pal Alberto (singer/dancer/bad joke teller!). After their definitions for the word, "Fur Fur" I will remain a vegetarian and animal activist for life!

In addition to my shows, I was part of the "Liar's Club" game show with my new pal, JP (an amazingly funny magician) and my old pal Alberto (singer/dancer/bad joke teller!). After their definitions for the word, "Fur Fur" I will remain a vegetarian and animal activist for life!

I enjoyed performing on the ship, the crowds were very warm and giving. Some of them even tried to “give” me their kids! The entire front row was filled with kids. Where were their parents? 7 rows back! Trust me when I tell you…I’m not doing a show for kids. I had to do my entire act in “code”. I figured, if you got the jokes…you were old enough.

Since I’m usually the one entertaining, it was a nice switch for me to get to go to the other shows and BE entertained for a change. My new friends, Rushlow Harris were awesome. They’ve been hugely successful in the country world for many years so it was a real treat to hear their songs.

Tim and Doni aka Rushlow Harris helped me get in touch with my "country roots"! OK, my "trailer-trash" roots.

Tim and Doni aka Rushlow Harris helped me get in touch with my "country roots"! OK, my "trailer-trash" roots.

Maybe it was being away from my family, maybe it was the hormones (probably an emotion coctail of both) but when they started singing, “She misses him”, I burst into tears. I could hear people around me whispering, “Hey, look at the comedian…she’s crying like a baby!” I’m thinking it was the straw that broke the emotional camel’s back. Either way, it felt good. Just to sit there in the dark theater, crying over some good ‘ole country songs. Thanks, Tim & Doni…ya’ll were way cheaper than a therapy session!

Ketchican, AK  A great place to take your family...{sigh}

Ketchican, AK A great place to take your family...{sigh}

I spent my days looking through the shops in search of the ever-elusive baby Beluga whale. When I left home, I told Nate that I would bring him home a souvenir. “A baby Beluga whale, Mommy? I’ve always wanted a baby Beluga whale my whole life!” he said looking up at me with his big, brown soulful eyes. What could I say? “Oh course I’ll bring you a baby Beluga whale, Nate.” Little did I know that there were NO baby Beluga whales in any of the shops in any of the ports. Trust me…I looked in all of them. In case you’re wondering…there are hundreds of stuffed bears, penquins, wolves and otters. I even found a stuffed salmon for crying out loud! I found whales alright, but no Beluga whales. I bought a stuffed Orca whale and a humpback whale figuring 2 would be better than one and he wouldn’t know the difference anyway. I should have known better. When I got to make one of my 3 calls home that week, I told Nate I found his whale for him. “What color is it, Mommy?” he tested me. “Black and white.” I stuttered trying to sound knowlegable. “Mommy! that’s an Orca whale. Some people call him a killer whale but I don’t because that’s not nice. It’s an Orca whale. Remember when we went to Sea World, Mommy? Shamu is an Orca whale. You got the wrong one.” {sigh} It really is amazing how a 4 year old can make a 45 year old feel like an imbecile. “Listen very carefully, Mommy…” Nate continued. “a baby Beluga whale is white.” He even slowed down his speech to help me understand. “OK, Nate…I think I got it now.”

I would like to personally thank everyone at the Vancouver Aquarium responsible for setting up shop in the airport. I was preparing myself for the huge dissapointment I was about to bring home to my eldest son when I looked up and saw an entire baby Beluga display in one of the airport gift shops. Was it a desperate Mommy mirage? No! It was real! Apparently, she was the first Beluga whale born in captivity and the aquarium decided to celebrate with merchandise. There were baby Beluga t-shirts, key chains and there on the second shelf down was the holy grail…a stuffed baby Beluga whale for $9.99 Canadian. I heard angels singing as I lifted it off the shelf and brought it to the counter to pay.

I came home and handed my son his baby Beluga whale. He gasped when he saw her. “Mommy!  It’s the baby Beluga whale that I wanted all my life…I love her so much! Thank you Mommy.” And he gave me “The Hug”.  Not just a hug but THE hug. The one that says, “You’re the best Mom ever…I will never need therapy because you’re such a great Mom.”

I did it! I spent an entire week away from my family and I managed to work out, get my hair done, catch up on my sleep and I did it all…GUILT FREE!

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