I’m not sure who coined the term “family vacation,” but the word “vacation” has no business being there. Unless it is used with irony.
As August finally sets in and I prepare to embark on mine, I’m haunted by family vacations of the years passed, even though I’ve spent July in anticipation of the day, with the enthusiasm of a child waiting for Santa. You see, summer vacations are hard. And by August, any stay-at-home mom of young kids has turned into a screaming nervous wreck, an alcoholic, or both.
Three pages of my notebook are dedicated to each family member and their list of essentials. I bet you know whose is longest.
I imagine the morning when we haul what seems like half of our apartment to the car, drive away late, sweating, someone’s crying because the 30-kilo suitcase they wanted to hold on their lap in the car seat, is instead in the trunk. Two hours later, we still haven’t reached the ferry, and “are we there yet” is beginning to sound like a noise a beast out of a horror movie makes before killing its prey. On the ferry, I run around the deck. The whole way there. And five minutes before we finally reach our destination, he’s asleep.
During the family vacation, I continue to rise with the sun, grocery shop, cook, and clean. But I also go to the beach, where I dream of a day when I will immerse my entire body in the water, when I will no longer worry that someone may drown real quick, if I do. I make castles, provide snacks and towels, and discreetly pull sand and pebbles out of my bathing suit bottoms.
After bedtime, I take the stack of books that I’ve been meaning to read for three family vacations, settle in a chair, and realize I haven’t exchanged an intelligent word with the other member of our family. We bring out the wine, sometimes invite some friends, and try to pretend we are normal adults, on a normal vacation. And sometimes make it to midnight, though it’s not pretty when we do.
A week later, we’re back home, more exhausted than we were when we left. And book a vacation from the family vacation.