Before I had children, 100 years ago, the word Vacation meant just that: rest, relax, unwind and feel that sand between your toes. Carefree days with a tropical breeze in your hair and a pina colada in your hand. Or two.
Oh, how we remember the lessons we learn the hard way. I can be as dense as a plank, and for that very reason, I never saw it coming until it hit me like a 2x4: Children, Vacation. I do not think it means what you think it means.
When you are a mother, the word Vacation doesn't come along and take your status away. There is no vacation away from being Mother. Days spent out of your residential state don't take away days of responsible adult care taking of your children. Responsible means in charge of. Your sandals and lacy tank tops don't get thrown in a fancy carry on bag along with deep tanning accelerator, and voila! Hola Mexico! You are now and forever, the mother, the one who gets things ready for this quote on quote Vacation. Pack for yourself? Maybe after you pack for the others in your tribe.
What to take, what not to take, looking into the future for what needs there may be: Tylenol? Better bring it along. Which reminds me, throw in the ear thermometer, too. Maybe some Benadryl, oh, and then that itch cream should really come along too. Things to pack and things to do. Kids aren't really happy staying up late having umbrella drinks by the pool until 1 a.m. and then sleeping in with shades pulled until noon. That's not going to fly. So aside from packing, you now need an itinerary and activities! One that isn't comprised of wine tours.
I remember my first vacation as a mother and how all of this shocked the heck out of me. Why didn't I know? I don’t know. I surprise myself about a good amount of other things on a daily basis, too. I mean, who did I think was going to do all this Vacation packing when I became a mother? It all goes back to the vacations when I was a kid. Who got things ready then? It was some kind of magic. HA!
Magic as in the magic that comes from what must have been our mother staying up until 4 a.m. packing for six children and then somehow having everybody ready to go that morning. Wasn’t I watching back then? Didn’t I even think for a minute that someday, when I was a mother, I’d be packing up the house for the kids to head out for a week?
Why didn’t I realize the amount of serious work that lay ahead? Who the heck knows and that’s an issue for another day but in the meantime, my point here is HOLY COW is that first vacation as a mother a brutal awakening. I mean, here you are, finally going someplace after being a mother for the first time in your life and you couldn't be more excited about getting away until it dawns on you... someone has to get things ready. Which basically means you pack up the house while you try to picture yourself wherever you’re going and crystal ball it for what you’ll need.
Our first vacation with our then 8-month-old baby was over Christmas, to my in-laws in California. I’m just going to tell you this as fast as I can because I feel my heart starting to pound faster already with the trauma trigger of this subject. We were living in Wisconsin and I didn’t want our baby to be *cold hot sweaty chilly shivery damp uncomfortable scared take your pick* while gone from home so I began thinking of everything I might need for California.
Not need but might need.
I began with emptying out the linen closet in our hallway of every thickness, weight, weave, and plushness of blanket. I didn’t stop until I had worked my way to the silverware drawer in the kitchen for small spoon, bigger spoon, medium spoon, spork? and emptied that drawer out, too. I continued on through the house acting pretty much like there weren't any stores in California. My husband, on the other hand, pulled out his itty bitty black carry-on, threw in his Bruce Springsteen T shirt, and a toothbrush. I think I may have seen a flash of his comb in there, too.
|Dad with baby. Our first vacation as a family. See the small black bag hanging on his hip? That would be his suitcase.|
Right before I passed out in my seat, [versus fell asleep, two very different things] I remember my husband saying, “Honey, RELAX. We’re going on vacation."
Vacation? I do not think that word means what you think it means.
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