A Weekend Without Homework and Video Games Brings a Mother and Son Closer

Travel > Nearby Getaways > Great Weekends

Saturday dinner with her son—”walking tall in his navy blazer”—is the author’s fondest memory. Photograph courtesy of Ann Cochran.

“This will be your last Easter as a child,” I said to my then 11-year-old son. “Indulge me as I savor it.”

Harry went along with my plan for a mother/son trip. I had gotten a good deal for one night at the Homestead resort ( in Virginia. After our four-hour drive, we hit the indoor pool, a gorgeous coffered-ceiling affair fed by a warm mineral spring. While I lounged under a tall palm, Harry horsed around with a boy his age.

Ten years later, the sweetest memory is Saturday-night dinner. It was fun to get ready together. While I dabbed on Bal à Versailles, he tied his tie. I was proud to enter the dining room with my son, walking tall in his navy blazer. With no one we knew looking on, we had a mother/son dance in that grand room, with its yellow walls and Palladian windows.

Earlier in the day, Harry ran me from waterfall to waterfall along the gorge walk, laughing and yelling, “Come on, slow Mommy!” The laughter continued on the golf course, although I appreciated that Harry observed golf etiquette—unless you count being underage at the wheel of the cart.

Sunday morning, I presented Harry with an overflowing Easter basket before we headed downstairs, hand in hand, for brunch. In the pancake line, we debated the secret ingredient. A chef whispered, “malt.” At an afternoon egg-decorating workshop, we made sparkly faux Fabergés that have graced our table every Easter since.

Driving home, we snacked on Peeps but didn’t do much talking. Harry fell asleep before long. I had time to think about how much closer I felt to my son in just a short time away from homework and video games. While we would still take family trips, I knew that getting away, just the two of us, was something I’d plan again. And I have—when teenage doldrums hit, after high-school graduation, when he needed a break during college. Or maybe it was me who needed a break—from my empty nest.