We just got back from a beautiful week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We head up there every year and stand in awe of that big lake. It’s a great time with family that we all look forward to each year. In fact, I’ve been going up there ever summer since I was in high school. My week in the UP used to be relaxing. It used to be, but, that’s not so much the case any more.
On the drive home yesterday my husband and I were reflecting on this life of ours and what we now call “vacation”. Since we got married a little bit later in life we both had lots of wonderful vacations as single people before marriage and babies and toddlers. My husband and I quickly came to the conclusion that since having kids vacation has changed dramatically and very well might be MORE stressful than our non-vacation life.
How did this happen? How did these little grubby monsters high-jack and derail vacation so completely?
They did it by weaseling their way into every nook and cranny of vacation. The kids claimed even the simplest parts of a week at the lake and made it all about them! Sure, it’s more fun with them. Sure, I won’t change a single thing about our time there (well, maybe I’d have them sleep in). And sure, they give me more joy than I know what to do with.
But man, I miss those days when vacation was actually a vacation.
Pre-Kids: Um, we’re on vacation. Don’t even talk to me about mornings. See you at 11. Maybe.
Now: The kids are up at 6. Why are they up at 6? They don’t even get up that early at home, and with the time change, it’s like 5am! This is nuts! I try to ignore them but spring out of bed when a big crash is followed by screaming. Everyone survives but my daughter has peed her pants so I’m doing laundry at 6:15 while trying to get breakfast out to a crazed bunch of kids in a strange kitchen with a few odd groceries we picked up in a frantic run through a grocery store the night before. There’s no high chair. I can’t figure out the coffee maker. Everyone is screaming. Oh yeah, this is relaxing…
Pre-Kids: Swim, lay on the beach, read my book, fall asleep, swim, moan about a sun burn.
Now: Lug a million things down to the beach, including a 30 lbs baby, only to make the trek, with a now screaming baby, back up to the cabin for the favorite shovel or towel that was left behind. Apply sunscreen, try to get the baby interested in something other than eating sand, bury one kid in the sand, and then spend the next 2 hours burying all of the kids, one after another, in the sand as well. Eat snacks coated in sand, feed seagulls, change sandy diapers, catch frogs, break up fights, hold shivering babies, swim with two kids hanging onto my back. Laugh a lot. Return to the cabin more exhausted than the kids.
Pre-Kids: Drink, laugh, tell stories, drink, drink, drink.
Now: Toast marshmallows for s’mores while dodging roasting forks wielded by toddlers and trying to keep my dad from eating all the chocolate. Somehow marshmallow ends up in my hair. Open a beer, take a drink, set it down and watch it get kicked over immediately. Apply bug spray. Take a kid up to the cabin to pee. Take another kid up to the cabin to pee. Head up to the cabin again before the sun is down to put the baby to sleep for the night. Nurse that beautiful baby to sleep and as they drift off notice grin softly spreading on their face, as if to say, ‘see you at 6am, Mom!’
Again, it was a great week that I will treasure the memory of forever, and I’m already looking forward to next year, but I man, that vacation did not feel like a vacation! Those dang kids! I love ’em, but man, I’m beat.
All the best, and happy “relaxing” this summer!