Picture it: you have a huge bowl of your favorite ice cream, fresh out of the freezer, just the right amount of melty. It looks and smells amazing, and your brain and mouth are prepared to be so happy. You take your first bite and....immediate brain freeze and diabetes. You wait a bit and try again. Same. Boom. Headache and The Sugars. But how can that be? It looks so inviting! You want it! You deserve it!
Sadly, you, my friend, have to go back to real life and vegetables. You should never have tried to enjoy yourself. You know better.
That's what it's like vacationing with kids. You're somewhere amazing, but you really should never have left your house. Pleasure and reality are smashed together in each moment and it is jarring af. Your mind is like, "Relax, put your feet up, you're in a rental and don't have to work, it's all good." But then some fucker in the next room screams that they're bleeding and did you pack the BandAids? ALL of the BandAids? The kind with the cartoon character they like? If not, woe unto everyone in the vacation home. Woe. Woe.
You walk past a cool Peruvian place that you'd LOVE to try for dinner...on your way to the burger place because your a-hole offspring will only eat french fries and $22 hamburgers.
You're having wine with your meals, and at night, and while you brush your teeth, because you're not driving anywhere and you're in vaca mode, aren't you?! Except INSTANT REGRET, because you have to BE sober and COOL enough to calmly settle a dispute about Fortnight skins. Also, you need to convince a moldy little human that wearing the same bathing suit in and out of pools, oceans, and hot tubs for four straight days does NOT constitute bathing.
Fifteen minutes ago they kayaked with sea otters and now they're complaining they're bored and you never do anything fun.
They eat. All. The. Time. You make them a meal, which they hate, which is just like at home, except worse because it was half as convenient and twice as expensive. Before their little butt cheeks even leave the chair they were precariously perched on, they're demanding snacks. THEN they've put down a pound of salt water taffy before you've turned back from the sink with freshly cut vegetables. You didn't want the vegetables!! You wanted ice cream. Now wtf are you supposed to do with all these damned vegetables?! And guess who's responsible when they puke in the rental car? The agencies don't understand when you tell them it's the kids' fault and you just wanted to relax.
And this whole time, you're thinking, "What is wrong with me, being all stressed out on vacation? Why can't I ever relax? I might need to up my meds."
And you might. That could help. But really I think the only answer is time. The older the kids get, the more we as parents can relax. It happens verrrrrrrry slowly. So slowly, you don't ever truly believe you'll have fun ever again, but you do, in time. I'm told.
Meanwhile, we take the pictures and share the stories with your friends and family, so that they can ooh and ahh and say, "Ohwhatabeautifulfamily youallgetalongsowellyouwill cherishthesememoriesfortherestofyourlife."
Being around children keeps my nervous system constantly firing. I'm twitchy because they're always about to scream or fall or both. They're never NOT moving and are always touching each other, even when they INSIST they're not. They resolve conflict with attempted murder. They whine instead of talk. They filth up and break things indiscriminately. Leaving home is all of this but worrying about them bleeding on OTHER PEOPLE'S stuff.
When you do finally head home, leaving all the shoes at the Airbnb and taking all the sand on the beach as a souvenir, you start planning your next vacation.
Because vacations are fun, right? And ice cream is delicious.
Anyway. Just got back from a week on the beach with my family. It was lovely.