Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation Blues

I just survived, or maybe I should say that “Red” just survived our family vacation. It was a close call. If I had had my duty weapon, he might be dead by now.  I realize that many who read this blog are men, but I’m sure there will be a few mothers/wives who can relate to the “vacation blues” that a mother/wife experiences during a family vacation. The cause of the blues is mainly due to the realization that you are not only vacationing with the two children who plowed through your birth canal, but also the one you married.
First off, there is the actual traveling. I was a prepared mother….I had a bag stocked with “travel presents” that Chatterbox and Towhead would be allowed to open every so often in an effort to reduce the chances of tears and boredom and the “Are we there yet?” syndrome that strikes every child within the first hour of any trip. I have been staunchly against the car dvd players. I want my kids to remember seeing the landscape, and experiencing travel, instead of being zoned out in front of Spongebob Square-pants or some other equally stupid cartoon for the entire length of the trip. In short, I’m an idiot. The travel presents were a failure. I made the mistake of getting the kids different “presents” therefore causing Chatterbox to immediately scream, “I want ___________ (whatever Towhead just received)”. Who knew that a 4 year old girl would want the same toy/book/snack as a 2 year old boy? Me of course. I am the mommy.
Secondly, Towhead was teething. I think. Or he had an ear infection. Or he simply hated traveling. Whatever the cause, he felt it necessary to cry. And cry. And cry. I found myself leaping from the front seat to the backseat. Singing. Putting on puppet shows. Playing numerous games of “This Little Piggy” (only to have Chatterbox scream, “No-It’s my turn!!”) Coloring. Head caressing. Peek a booing. Face making. Ear plugging. Cursing. And shooting dirty looks to…. Red.
Red was driving. The whole time. He was in pure bliss. Red has the ability to simply block out all else that is happening in the car, and enjoy the ride. He gazes out the window, watching for birds to add to his life list. He goes no faster than 2 miles over the speed limit (even when Chatterbox is whining, “I have a tummy ache” translation: “I have to go poopy really bad”). He even has the gall to apply the brakes now and then, just to piss me off. I distinctly remember the same thing happening when I was pregnant and needing to pee. He would go at idle speed two blocks from our house.
He gave off the vibe: No worries here! Mommy will take care of it.
Red’s other downfall? He can’t handle changing plans. I have to give him several days warning if I so much as think about asking him to stop at the store on the way home from work to pick up a loaf of bread. Otherwise I must explain in great detail what I expect. And it must be worded very carefully. “Would you mind swinging into the store and getting a loaf of bread? I didn’t have time, since it is deer opener and all.”  (What I want to say is- Stop at the store and get bread. I didn’t have time because I too have a full time job- two hours of which was spent trying to come up with an idea for supper since the only suggestion you ever have is ham-steak. And because you used up the last slice on your day off with the children at home. Even though on my days off (as well as my days on) I frequent the grocery store with both our children. And no, it isn’t fun but I do it anyway.”
Silence. Silence.
“You mean, like the gas station (which is less out of the way)”.
“No, I mean like the grocery store. Where bread doesn’t cost $7 a loaf. It is the place where there are rows upon rows of food. Many people go there. And some people even take their children. I rarely purchase our roast beef from the BP. “
Silence. Silence.
Then, ten minutes later he will call me, while inside the actual grocery store and ask me to direct him to the correct aisle.
I digress.
After three hours spent in the car with my miserable children, cramped into the backseat and stressed out, we finally pull into a rest stop so Chatterbox can take care of her tummy ache. This is accomplished by me standing inside the stall with her and telling her, “Chatterbox, you have one mission here. You need to concentrate on pooping. Don’t ask me why there is a bug on the wall, or ask why there is water on the floor or ask why fish like to swim. You should have only one thing in your mind right now. Pooping. And don’t ask me why.”
Red, in the meantime is standing out in the grass with Towhead who has also filled his pants. Red apparently doesn’t do diapers on vacation. So, while I’m changing Towhead’s diaper, Chatterbox locates a playground at the rest stop and proceeds to have lots of fun going down the slide. After I finish changing the diaper, I feel it is only fair to let Towhead slide for a while too. I could use a little break myself. BUT. This wasn’t part of Red’s plan. He shoots me a dirty look as I tell Towhead to try out the fun slide. After about three turns Red tells the children it is time to go. They disagree. Usually this is when I step in and remind them that they must obey their father. Only this time I stay quiet. He can be the bad guy for once in his life.

Thirty minutes in to a two hour side trip on the second day. Towhead was grabbing his ears and bawling. I was miserable. Finally I said to Red, "You know, I don't think we are going to make it all the way." He looked at me in confusion. Had he not been hearing his son (and his wife) crying for the last half an hour? "Towhead is obviously in pain. I don't know what to do." His response? "I don't think there is anything you CAN do." He continued driving in peace. So I said, "Well, how about NOT driving for two hours?" Sure enough, as soon as those words left my mouth, little Towhead shut up. See? Red was right again (or so his smug look tells me). We continued on our merry way.
Then, there is the continental breakfast at the hotel.  The room was packed when we arrived. The hotel was hosting a wedding party and a church group and they all wanted breakfast at the same time. So we walk in. I’m holding onto Towhead so he doesn’t bolt for the pool and holding Chatterbox’s hand for the same reason. But there are no tables available. Instead of helping me come up with a plan of attack for providing our offspring with the most important meal of the day (without losing them in the melee), Red makes a break for the food. Two minutes later he arrives back with a plate full of biscuits and gravy (for himself) and looks at me like I should’ve found a table for all of us by now.
I’m regaining control.
There is more to the vacation from hell story. But I think this is good enough for now.
It is safe for me to remove my handgun from its safe in the morning and go to work. I look forward to chatting with people who, though they may be wearing shirts that read, “If It Flies It Dies” (it is dove opener, after all), at least they won’t expect me to cook for them, do the dishes and put their children to bed. After baking a cake. And having sex.
Thanks for letting me vent. I better go now- we are out of milk. And I need to unpack Red’s bag.


  1. Wow, sounds like a sure fire definition of the term "Miserable Times". It is strange that family bound to a vehicle for more than a short trip is not much fun at all and brings the worst out in us all. Even though, when at peace we are a very loving close-knit family. Alas, been there and done that. Hope "Red" survives another day!

  2. Red sounds like my buddy Lew. His wife sets his clothes out for him, cooks dinner, tends the children, does laundry, cleans house, and does 30-40 hrs at work. Saint of a woman he has.

  3. That sounds like a slow descent into Hell.. I'm glad you all made it back alive!

  4. My wife will get a kick out of this. I'm sure she has felt like that on a couple trips. Sounds like Red and I could learn something from your story here.

  5. What can I can? It's a man thing!

  6. My wife could definitely relate to this. I try to not be that selfish but I'm sure I have been.

  7. I'm gonna try an angle here which may further cause you to cringe and may well get me a wallop upside the head with your virtual service sidearm. You are living the dream. My Chatterbox is now 19; my Towhead 17. It seems just like yesterday that they made my life very much as you detailed. Then suddenly I blinked and 15 years went by in a flash. Some day you'll look back on these little episodes and laugh. Until then, drink heavily. Afterall, you're not driving ;)

  8. Oh, don't worry Kirk- Every day I wish my babies would stay little. I cringe when I think of the teen years. Vacations would just be more fun if Red and I could share the work!!

  9. I feel for you! I too have a man like Red in my life, he has come around a itty bit, and will bring a child thru the line with him. That helps. Hang in there, better days are always not far behind the bad ones. :)

  10. Suddenly I'm a little sorry for being a man!
    How can I help?

  11. Oh yes, Oh yes, Oh yes. That was my life. Vacation was vacation for everyone but mommy. My husband was pretty much the 4th child.

    It gets better -- or maybe it's just the divorce that made it better LOL!!!!

  12. My husband let the dog out last night and she was skunked. He then let the dog back in and 160 lbs of stink landed on me while I was sleeping in bed. I spent my last day off doing laundry, scrubbing walls and shampooing carpets. All I wanted to do was write. I thought I needed a vacation but then read your post. Could you meet me for a girl's night out? No sex, you don't have to wipe my butt and I'll pay for the alcohol.

  13. Oh, how I love you Bad Luck. You make me laugh every time I read your comments :)

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