We don’t usually take vacations-as-such around here. We take a weekend here, a long weekend there. We take the whole horde places fairly rarely, and usually only for one or possibly two nights. Thanksgiving at Grandma’s in LA, for example, or the annual 4th of July BBQ at the uncle’s house (also in LA) (because my husbands ginormous family mostly lives down there) (seriously – the in-law portion of the family? ginormous. I still have trouble with which cousin belongs to what branch of the family tree and also one of my sister in laws has four boys and I have never once NOT EVEN ONCE gotten the names of the older two correct on the first try, which is mightily embarrassing but there it is).
This year, we took an actual Vacation As Such. Two seven hour trips on I-5, nine days, eight nights, and OH MY GAWD WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!
We have a lot of family and friends down there in sunny Los Angeles, but their homes are on the >>>small<<< side. They are delightfully hospitable and when we go down for one or two nights we often spend them fidgeting on the futon and hissing “stop kicking me!” and “get off me!” at our children, but for, you know, this longer eight night visit involving multiple activities several hours apart, I thought a hotel would probably be best.
Ha! HAhahahahahaha. Best. Yes. Well. We got a one bedroom suite, which was actually about the same size as my first apartment. I spent a lot of time this last week appreciating what I have here in the Den, because six people sharing 600 square feet of hotel room with one bathroom and an ‘efficiency’ kitchenette was an…interesting social experiment.
Most uttered phrase of the week: “Will you PLEASE just SIT DOWN SOMEWHERE?!”
Housekeeping was shocking indifferent. Seriously. They had a daily checklist of five (5) items. Make beds. Change towels. Restock bathroom. Restock kitchen supplies (coffee and dishwasher soap packet). And the rather essential ‘take out the trash’ part.
They had eight tries to do all five things, and not once NOT EVEN ONE TIME did they do all five. My personal favorite was our very last night, when we staggered home at midnight to discover that they had taken all the towels out of the room and left us with about three washcloths.
However, it was better than the futon, and if our stay had been shorter we might not have noticed the Minimalist Housekeeping and thought it was just fine. Shorter stays are like that. You don’t have as much time to become irritated with things, like the dripping bathtub faucet or the fact that in order to get a replacement box of Kleenex you have to threaten the manager with bodily harm. We had two kids on one bed, one kid on the sleeper sofa, and Captain Adventure was in his portable crib (when he wasn’t sleeping on mommy) while we took up the other double bed.
Where we proceeded to hiss at each other, “Stop kicking me!” and “Get. Off. Me!” because we have a king bed at home and have become accustomed to being able to sleep alone-together.
The kids being the ages they are, there was nothing restful about the whole experience. Don’t get me wrong – it was fun and there were a lot of wonderful moments I will surely treasure forever (as soon as my feet stop throbbing and that weird twitch over my left eye goes away), but dudes.
See, at home, we each have our own spaces, and can retreat to them when we’d really like a little break from each other. The Den is set up for the children. I can go to the bathroom without worrying that I’m going to come out and find blood all over the floors and the children missing. Well. Pretty much I can. For the most part.
We have our routines, and our conveniences. If somebody throws up on their shirt, I can take care of it efficiently. If somebody else wants to color, it isn’t a four day expedition to find markers and some paper.
And if we need clean towels I know where to grab them. Or can throw some into the washer and have clean, soft, warm, non-chlorine-scented towels in a matter of about 90 minutes, start to finish. (Express wash setting, people – it’s a good thing.)
It isn’t that normal life isn’t a lot of work and that I don’t sometimes come to the end of the day and say to myself, “Dang. That was a hard day!” It’s just that…nine consecutive days of non-stop Denizen wrangling and having to dig around for everything from park tickets to crayons while paying about four times as much for everything from coffee to soda crackers really took the starch out of me.
Also, I become irrationally anxious when faced with crowded and/or loud and/or distracting situations and tend to blame my husband for disasters that are unlikely to actually happen. (Please note the word ‘irrationally’, above.)
Going to the family party at the house with the pool: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure that daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will drown.
Going to Disneyland with not only our four but also two ‘extra’ children: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will become forever lost.
Going to friend’s house for the day with the four children plus said friend’s two children: Mommy is nervous wreck because she is sure daddy is NOT paying close enough attention and at least one child will run into the street and be killed and/or at least one child will manage to break something priceless and/or at least one child will go into the backyard and get mauled by the (completely friendly and not prone to mauling) dogs.
I do not know why I have this deep-seated fear that trusting my spouse to pay enough attention to his children to prevent disaster from striking is sure to bring catastrophe down upon us. He is overall a very attentive father and shares most of my concerns about drowning, burning, falling, being run over by vehicles of various sorts and so forth.
But I become anxious when we are in crowded and/or chaotic situations and he does not, which somehow translates in my mind as ‘not paying attention’ because it is SO OBVIOUS that we should indeed be very, very anxious. Very anxious. Not being anxious must mean you are not aware of the MORTAL PERIL we are all in at this moment.
Yes. It is very difficult, being me.
It was about a restful as preparing for final exams in five classes while working full time and having two children in diapers. And it was all go-go-go right up until the very last moment! After checking out of the Hotel of Minimalist Housekeeping (where, I have just realized, we left a full package of Oreos AND another of Pepperidge Farms cookies, WAH!), we took the children into Disney’s California Adventure. We did just about every ride in the park and snagged late afternoon reservations at Ariel’s Grotto so we could pay way too much for decent but not spectacular food dine under the sea with the Disney princesses before doing the final ‘OK, now you can pick a toy’ and heading for home.
They all yelled and sang and carried on for about the first six Advils two hours of the drive home. With frequent reprises.
It is truly astonishing how much noise four young children can make in an enclosed space…say, a minivan…and for how long they can keep it up, and also how often they can drum up yet another round of it.
We were so tired we practically wept when we pulled into our own driveway late last night (or, arguably, very early this morning), threw the children in the general direction of their beds and fell into our own like vampires hitting their coffins at dawn. I have vague memories of running around turning the water heater and air conditioner back on, and I may have kissed my sheets because they did not smell like chlorine, and that I may possibly have declared my undying love for my own bedroom and that I had forgotten how clean the Den is, and well-stocked with clean towels. And how large. And how altogether cozy and comfortable and lovely it is.
The vacation was great fun.
Let’s not ever do it again.
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