Vacation- the Un-Vacation

I've always felt let down by big events. I generally try to avoid too much ado on my birthday, It started as a kid and continued into adulthood. On my fifth birthday, things took a turn for the worse when I got upset, hung from the railing on the porch of my house, and called the kids f*ckers. The day was officially ruined (for me) when the kids had to go home and took their gifts with them. I haven't sworn at anyone since then but I just prefer the day come and go, always with the hope that, maybe, just maybe, my fairy godmother will come and take me away to a magical place that will blow my mind and fulfill my every last dream. (It never happens.)

Most holidays depress me as well, and, in particular, New Year's Eve, is often just sad. How can anyone have any fun in the cold and snow? Even large amounts of alcohol don't make it better and all I end up doing is trying to talk on a phone that turns out to be a tape dispenser or I wake the next morning feeling like* SPOILER ALERT *Bella Swan when she becomes a vampire.

Along the lines of big exciting events and holidays that have too many hopes and dreams riding on them, I'd like to add vacation. I started working full-time again last January so the need for my 5 days off to be THE BEST VACATION EH-VA, on a scale of 1-10, is 10,547. I really needed this summer's vacation, being my first five consecutive days off since Christmas (aka hopes up, dreams down holiday)to be the cure all for a long six months. The winter was cold and long, I've sailed rough seas at work, haven't recovered from my hamstring pull, felt helpless witnessing Caroline develop anxiety issues, dealt with some family health scares, and have yet to figure out how to juggle working full-time with keeping a clean house and a sane mind. As the months marched on, this five day vacation became my Calgon. I couldn't wait to jump into the warm blue water of time off while exclaiming, "Take me away!"

I apparently haven't learned my lesson or can consider myself an eternal optimist.

I had to know that this was not the Calgon commercial. It never was and it was never going to be.I don't ever remember seeing a 15-hour car ride or bitchy, tanrumming children in the Calgon commercial. No part of a 15-hour car ride is vacation-like. There are no swim-up bars in the car. There are no naps on the towel. There are no meditative walks on the beach or massages. There are no shopping trips. There are tired people, cramped in a car, listening to the same songs on the radio which drown out the sound of the children in the back who are fighting because there is a cooler between them that they keep shoving into one another's sides. There is no decompressing when said cooler ends up in your lap for 100 miles because holding a boxy, 15 pound container on your lap is better than listening to their moaning and fighting. There are extra long potty stops, when the time ticks, ticks, ticks away and you watch your GPS move your time of arrival from 11:30 to 2:30 because this is the fourth time you've stopped because one of the kids has to poop and, although she couldn't go through with it the last three times, she's going to this time, and yes, you need to be in the stall, but not looking at her in order for this show to get on the road.

In the Calgon commercial, nobody asks, "Are we there yet?" Nobody asks that relaxing lady in the tub for snacks, drinks, lunch, snacks, dinner, snacks, or dessert. Nobody asks her to wipe their bums or pull up a wet swimsuit. She doesn't have to remember to re-apply sunscreen after the kids get out of the pool only to not apply enough and feel shamed when the kids get burned and feel hot and pained when she forgets to put sunscreen on herself. The lady in the lovely blue water isn't yelling at kids to stop fighting over a noodle or which color Gatorade belongs to who. At this point in the vacation I'm saying take me away- take me away in a straight jacket.

Vacations are null and void for worry warts like me. You can take the worrier on vacation but you can't take the worry out of the worrier. I worried about getting in a car accident. I worried about the kids eating too much junk food. I worried they were getting burned or dehydrated or not getting enough sleep. I felt like Martin Brody looking for the Jaws for most of my time on the beach, (Thanks to 8 sharks attacks in 1 month along the North Carolina coast) nervously scanning the seas for signs of a fin as the children frolicked in the waves. I worried that I wasn't enjoying my vacation as much as I should. That made me worried that something is wrong with me.

If you are ever feeling overly confident in your parenting abilities, I suggest you take a vacation. There's nothing more relaxing than watching your children self destruct in front of an audience, be they strangers or family. It takes all of my soul, each morning and evening, before and after work, to jump directly into Sergeant Mommy Mode, giving marching orders all while doing dishes, laundry, getting myself situated, reviewing homework, feeding pets, answering emails, etc. My silly little optimistic mind seems to think that I can turn into a pumpkin on vacation while my fairy godmother does the work for me. I think the odds are higher that I could indeed talk to someone via a tape dispenser than my kids being good girls for the sake of being good girls. There is no fairy god mother. I can not be a pumpkin. On vacation, every knows I'm a bad mom. Calgon! You better f/cking take me away RIGHT NOW!

On vacation, I can almost taste relaxation. I can see it from very, very far away. It's close enough to see but too far to touch. It's like a mirage on the horizon on a hot day. It slips through my hands like sand. And then, it is over.

I'm still going to be optimistic. I'm still going to believe that vacation (and New Year's and my birthday) are going to fulfill my ever fantasy. I've created a few notes for next year's designated five days of refreshment.

Wear a mouth guard to protect my teeth from all of my night-time stress grinding.

Don't ever let Andy go to Las Vegas by himself instead of coming on the family vacation.

Take Prozac.

Go to Siberia.

Don't buy a map and then give it to the kids who then lose it in the back seat.

Go on vacation alone.

I'm back now and vacation is a distant memory. The good, the bad, and every moment in between, are now tucked away in a corner of my brain. Sergeant Mommy is back, barking orders and forgetting to pack lunches for camp. And when the wee ones go to bed, this pumpkin fills a warm tub of water, drops in some Calgon, and hops in for a stay-cation that finally takes me away. Ahh.

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