You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

Vacationing once you have kids is nothing like it was pre-parenthood. First of all, if you work a 9-5, you probably only have a couple of weeks of vacation per year. You’ll spend at least half of that sitting at home being puked on by other people, sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office/dentist’s office, attending a parent-teacher conference listening to what a terror your child is, etc. Not my idea of a great vacation. So you might be left with one week for an actual “vacation.”

My idea of a vacation is a beach, all-inclusive alcohol delivered to me (at the beach) until I pass out in my chair, getting all dressed up for a dinner where they serve a bunch of crap I won’t eat (lobster, fatty steak, things I can’t pronounce), a comfortable suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean, mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice…you get the point. That’s what a vacation should be.

The vacation I’m on now is a little less of all of that and a little more chasing kids around a huge, probably urine-filled, water structure; almost losing my lunch on a three story water slide, which I have to go on because my kids are only 42″ tall (6″ shy of being able to ride alone); screaming kids accompanied by even louder screaming parents; and a family suite adorned with wolves, timber, and other forest-themed ornamentation. The one redeeming quality of this room is that it has two queen-sized beds and a pull-out couch to accommodate our entire family. If you’re smart parents, like us, you talk up the pull-out couch:

Oh my gosh, look kids! This is a couch and a bed! Coolest thing ever! Almost like a transformer!

Then have all of them sleep on it together so you and The Husband each get your own queen-sized bed. I know, easy on the romance, there are children present.

Moving on.

The other problem about vacationing, besides the vacation itself, is getting there. The Husband refuses to fly.

Swans are flightless birds, he says. What he actually means is: I’m a control freak and I don’t trust a pilot who has been through extensive training to learn how to safely get me to my destination; I don’t believe the mathematical truth that a car crash is far more likely than a plane crash; and I’m a coward. 

So even if we weren’t too cheap to spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets for our whole brood, we couldn’t unless we left The Husband behind (which I actually did when we went to Disney World – he says it was one of the best weeks of his life).

I’m not even going to get into the laundry list of issues of riding in the car with kids. That’s something that deserves its own post. One of my biggest annoyances during a road trip is The Husband. There are two main things he does that make me want to prove to him that the danger of an irritated wife in a car is actually more concerning than a plane crash and a car crash combined:

First of all, he always decides to do extensive car maintenance before we leave. Not a few days before we leave, but RIGHT BEFORE we leave. As in, we’re in the car waiting and he’s under the hood changing the oil. On the way to Tennessee, he actually stopped at an Auto Zone along the way to purchase items to do some sort of routine maintenance. Yesterday, we were a mile down the road when he decided to turn around for something of that nature. It’s as if we just woke up that day and decided to leave and he had no warning and no time to do these things in advance.

Second of all, similar to the way he doesn’t trust pilots, he doesn’t trust GPS. So he uses an Atlas like he is freaking Christopher Columbus in uncharted territory:

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As you can see, the atlas takes up the entire car. Every time he’s done consulting it, he tosses it in my lap and I have to try to shove it between the seats and it flops over on my lap and I have to wrestle it into submission. I can’t put it on the floor because he may need me to hand it to him quickly if he has a question. He can’t have me find the answer for him because 1) I get carsick 2) Why the hell would I know how to read a map? and 3) I refuse. Use a GPS like every other person in the world.

The atlas is sure to get us lost at some point because he’s been using the same one since we’ve been married, which I believe was handed down by his father (and I’m pretty sure they stopped making these things hundreds of years ago) so there is no way it’s up to date.

Anyway, vacation is great. Family time, togetherness, etc. I’m so confident in our ability to enjoy each other’s company that I had a small glass (or two) of wine yesterday at 6:30 a.m. while I was waiting on the car maintenance to be completed. Don’t judge. I’m on vacation.

Anything you can do, I can do better…almost

We’re going to a water park next week.  I hate water parks for a number of reasons too extensive to list in this post, but the top of the list is that they require wearing a swimsuit. This year, however, I’m changing my attitude on swimsuits.  Read on.

Did anyone else feel like a Victoria’s Secret model immediately after giving birth? Yes, you read that correctly.  I’m not talking about the dark, depressing weeks that follow birth where you grow to hate every aspect of your ruined body (engorgement, stretch marks, excess skin, dark circles, poor bladder control). I’m talking about the first time you stood up after giving birth when everything shifted and you suddenly realized you were no longer carrying eight pounds of baby and a million tons of amniotic fluid, placenta and other miscellaneous rubbish. I felt fantastic after Boy One was born. My mom warned me:

Now, don’t expect your tummy to just go right back down.  You’re still going to look about six months pregnant after you have him.

Wrong! I looked great and I told her so.

Look at me! I’m practically back to normal already!

She just raised her eyebrows, looked up and down at the pile of fat and skin that used to be my body, and gave me the silent nod and fake smile.  I was right about one thing: The fact that she was wrong.  She said I would look six months pregnant and it was probably closer to eight. I may have felt light and airy like a pixie, but I was not. I realized this a few days later when I got out my pre-pregnancy jeans that I was sure would fit. And then the tears came. I cried and cried. This was not postpartum depression. It was just devastation that this was the body I now had to live in. Forever.  And also devastation that I was wrong. I hate being wrong.

Anyway, that reality check stayed with me for eight years, through a second pregnancy, and while I’m still largely put off by most aspects of my body, I’m pleased to report that this year I will be donning a two-piece swimsuit for the first time post-pregnancy.  This is because I have worked so very hard, exercising 10 times per week, cutting out all alcohol and sweets, eating only nuts and berries….

Ok, ok….I credit my decision completely to the condescending, self-righteous attitude that can only come from eight grueling years of parenting. Eight years ago, I would have looked at a tan, tight little 19-year-old in a bikini and felt sad and inadequate.  Now I just feel superior.

Sure, you can put on a minuscule amount of cloth and look fantastic and my husband is going to ogle you in a way that’s slightly more than extremely creepy – kind of similar to the way he looks at those gigantic steaks they keep behind the glass counter at Texas Roadhouse.  You got me there. But I’m willing to bet that there are a number of things that I could do better than you:

Can you go for eight years on less than five hours of sleep per night?

Can you get yourself and three other people dressed, fed, and out the door in 30 minutes flat?

Can you live covered in puke and poop for years at a time?

Can you carry a purse, a diaper bag, $75 worth of groceries, and a baby up a stairway, in the rain (without dropping any of them) while talking on your cell phone and barking orders at two other unruly, disobedient people?

Can you even say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you could keep three irresponsible, clumsy, accident-prone people alive for eight years?

Oh, girly, you have no idea the terrible things that are going to befall you over the next 20 years.  I haven’t seen it all yet, but I hear that it gets worse. Enjoy that meat-ogling gaze while you still can.  I’ll be over here shoving this pale, Play-doh-esque body into a two-piece swimsuit and the creepy, pudgy dads at this hot miserable hell of a water park can look in awe, curiosity, horror…and I can honestly say that I don’t care one bit.

We do what we can

So Mother’s Day is today, girls. That’s the day we get recognition for all of our special maternal achievements over the past year.  Don’t forget to also pat yourself on the back for all of the things you did over the past year just to get by. Give yourself a pat on the back for every time you:

  1. Sat your kids in front of a questionable video game so you could take a two-hour bubble bath.  Extra points if you made them share their bath water so you wouldn’t have to wait on hot water.
  2. Used your diaper bag to lug in the 1.5 liter bottle of cheap wine that you plan to drink over the next week – or two days.
  3. Drove around the block twice before pulling into your babysitter’s driveway so you could finish listening to that song that you can’t listen to with them in the car.
  4. Gave them the answers (or just straight up forged their handwriting) on a homework assignment because you couldn’t face the painstaking task of watching them complete it. (Hint: Use your left hand)
  5. Safely righted your vehicle after precarious swerving caused by flailing your right arm in the backseat hoping to swat someone (anyone) in a futile effort to make them stop fighting.
  6. Picked them up late because you had to run by the pharmacy to get that much-needed refill on your anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-psychotic, anti-whatever-it-takes meds.
  7. Had the following conversations:
    1. Did you use soap? Are you sure? Then let me smell you.
    2. Onions? Absolutely not. Those are just spices.
    3. Are you seriously pooping right now? Why now? You’ve had all morning! I don’t have time for this!
    4. If you don’t eat those pizza rolls, you’re not getting any chips.
    5. Yes, we do brush our teeth on Fridays.

I’m also patting myself on the back for having the foresight to take a vacation day tomorrow and, yes, I’m considering being that mom that still takes the baby to the babysitter even though she’s at home.  I’m thinking absurdly long bubble bath, fried food smorgasbord, day drinking and binge-watching Netflix, finished off with a nap.

Happy Mother’s Day to me and all moms.  We do what we can.