It has been a long, hard winter. Followed by several weeks of spring that were a long, hard winter. Followed by one nice day. And then two more weeks of snow.
On top of this, my husband has just finished a huge project at work. He worked nights, weekends. For months, he was either at work or at home working. At one point he got so stressed out he stopped talking in complete sentences.
Neither of these things, of course, registered with our kids, who still wanted to do things and learn things and go places and, in general, needed constant parenting even though we were a man down and living on Hoth.
“Can we go outside, Momma?”
“No, baby, there’s a snowstorm.”
“Can Daddy take us outside?”
“No, baby. Daddy is crying in the kitchen and stress-eating frosting straight from the can.”
Which is why we are taking a much-needed vacation in a few days. I mean, we NEED this as a family. NEED IT. Everyone is snippy and crabby and a few other highly descriptive words I can’t use because this is a family website.
So, we are heading to a cottage resort on the Maine coast. I even sprang for the fancy big cottage. With an ocean view. And a fireplace. And a porch. And separate bedroom for the kids. A separate bedroom that hopefully locks and is soundproof.
As I’m sure you can guess, I cannot wait. Here’s how I imagine it will be:
Everyone will wake up in a great mood on the morning we are supposed to leave. The sun will be shining and birds will be singing and then the little singing birdies will help me get the kids dressed. In fact, the morning goes so smoothly that we realize (as we coolly and calmly climb into the car) that we have time to go out to eat for breakfast. Which is how we find that adorable diner with the sassy waitress who entertains the kids so my husband and I can actually eat our food and drink our coffee and have a conversation instead of shoveling it all in and grunting at each other.
The kids will then immediately fall asleep in the car until we arrive at the cottage (which is even bigger than we thought) and the weather will be 75 and sunny every day with a light breeze.
We will spend our days wandering through the quaint little town and walking along the seashore and eating too much food and drinking too much beer and buying frivolous things we don’t need because, hey, we’re on vacation.
I will read at least three books and finally make a dent in that giant magazine pile that’s been building for months.
Every night the kids will immediately fall asleep in their SEPARATE bedroom at 8 p.m. while my husband and I sit on the porch and drink even more adult beverages and talk about everything and nothing and make-out like gross teenagers.
And, of course, I will take a thousand photos and look back upon this vacation as one of the best times of our lives.
Sigh. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Yeah. Except, I have gone to too many places with my kids to delude myself into really believing all that. So, here is how our vacation is actually likely to go down:
We will leave the house approximately two hours late because of multiple pants-related tantrums. Breathless and sweaty and irritated, we will shove the kids into their car seats as they cry and we curse under our breaths. Once we are finally on the road, I will start hurling handfuls of Cheerios into the backseat because the kids won’t stop whining about how hungry they are. About 45 minutes in, we will have to turn around because one of them forgot their woobie even though they were reminded 12 times not to forget their woobie.
Back on the road, AGAIN, we will keep turning up the radio to drown out the “how much longer?” whining from the oldest and the hysterical sobbing from the youngest.
The cottage will be much smaller than we thought and the weather forecast will predict rain the entire time we are there. Possibly snow. And as soon as we get our luggage out of the car, the kids will start complaining about how bored they are. When I angrily snap back at them “I don’t care,” the youngest will get her revenge by throwing all my books into the toilet.
The kids will play on the beach for exactly 14 minutes before wanting to move onto something else, both oblivious to the fact they are covered head to toe in sand. After cleaning them up, we will try to go out to eat but never actually get to sit down at the same time because the youngest keeps figuring out how to get down from the highchair like some tiny rabid Houdini and the oldest chooses right now to poop his pants.
Very soon after this we’ll say screw it and head back to the cottage where we’ll put the kids to bed early and open a bottle of wine and start a fire in the fireplace. As soon as the glass hits our lips, our daughter will start crying. Which wakes up our son. Who also then starts crying. And they’ll both end up in bed with us. Where they kick and squirm all night. And my husband and I end up awake but unable to move for the next eight hours, just laying there in a hell of our own making.
And, of course, I will take a thousand photos and then leave my cell phone in the bathroom of that restaurant, which I will only remember as soon as we are back home.
But THE POINT IS we are going on vacation. Where, no matter what, memories will be made.
And hey, in just a few short decades, we’ll only be able to remember the good ones.