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Leaving Las Vegas

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08/31/2010

Leaving Las Vegas photo 1

Last month, I went on a much-needed vacation with my hubby—our first ‘adults only’ trip since our daughter was born.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

We slept for more than 14 HOURS straight the first night.  We traveled with carry-on luggage only.  And for three entire days all I needed to carry was a wallet—no diapers, wipes, snacks or toys.  For three days, it was just the two of us, and we felt 10 years younger.

I felt zero guilt about leaving my daughter.  I missed her, but for the first time in 2+ years I GOT TO SLEEP IN.  If you think this makes me a bad Mommy, get a new definition of bad.

There was only one little problem with our relaxing vacation.  We were in Vegas.  As in Vegas baby, Vegas!!!  The city of lights, America’s playground, etc., etc., etc.

It seemed like a good idea—spend a little time at the spa, catch a show, maybe do a little shopping, and if we won the whole trip could be free!  Where else do have the potential to make money on vacation? So (assuming you can also tolerate losing some money) what could possibly be bad about a relaxing trip to Vegas?

In theory, nothing—but Vegas was designed to stimulate the senses, in every possible way.  So it’s probably not the best place to relax and unwind at the height of tourist season when you have to fight your way through mobs of tourists just to get to the spa.

Still… overall it was a great trip.  Yet, something was “off” on this trip that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on.

And then what “it” was dawned on me as a very pretty, very young, and very, very scantily clad waitress took my drink order.  Instead of thinking “I wish I had her body” I thought: “I hope my daughter never has a job that requires her dress like that, I don’t care what it pays.”  I wanted to give her my sweater.

Leaving Las Vegas photo 2

This better be as short as her hemline ever gets.

Truth is, I’m just too damn old, too damn middle-class, and definitely too much of a mom, to enjoy Vegas.

At 36, I’m too old to party late into the night and still get up in the morning like I could in my 20s—even if I still wanted to.  (The upside: I can now afford a spa visit—but I can do that at home.)  My middle-class sensibilities were irked by the multitude of stores where handbags cost more than most families living in poverty must live on for an entire year.  I kept thinking “just think what that money could do if given to a charity.”  I knew this before the trip, but darn it if Vegas didn’t confirm just how old and practical I have gotten.

But the last part—that I was too much of a mom to thoroughly enjoy Vegas—was the most surprising revelation.  I’m aware of the whole “sin city” is Vegas’ deal, and if you aren’t down for that, don’t go, thing.  But it really got to me.  This was my tenth time in Vegas, but the first time I really took stock of the multiple ways women were being sold—from billboards advertising topless shows, strip clubs, and “adult services” to the waitresses’ whose uniforms had less material than my bathing suit.  It made me sad, and I kept thinking that I hope my daughter doesn’t ever have to dress provocatively to earn a living, please a man, or just to feel attractive.

And I kept wondering: why?  Why did every woman in Vegas need to be barely dressed—even just to do a relatively normal job?  Why does our society still focus so much on women and sex?  Just like I wonder “why” each time I see a teenage girl wearing shorts that barely covers her assets.  When did baring nearly all become the norm for young girls—from Las Vegas, NV to Deerfield, IL?  And more importantly, when will it end? (By Lindsay’s Bat Mitzvah, I hope.)

Time and parenthood has turned me into a hypocrite, and I’m not proud of that.  Sure, I have never had to dress provocatively to earn a living, but I’ve worn outfits that I wouldn’t let my daughter out of the house in.  And at the time I didn’t feel “exploited”—just as I imagine a lot of women working in Vegas don’t feel that way either, probably the opposite.  But I don’t want my daughter buying into what society tells us is “sexy” for a woman—because too often it is sexist and exploits young women.  I want my daughter to know that her assets are found in her heart and her head—not in her bra.

I think this was the last time that I will leave Las Vegas.  Viva Las Vegas—but I hope someday more has changed about it than just the hotels on the strip.

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