I heard once someone said a vacation is something you do on a South Pacific island or a Mexican resort. When traveling with kids, you're on a trip. There is nothing remotely vacation-like about it, other than the fact that you're eating out at restaurants. When you're with kids, however, the restaurants force an inedible kid's menu on children with the same 4 deep-fried, questionable chicken items on it.
Traveling with kids to visit family is an altogether different kind of trip. When we travel to visit my family who live on the same coast, but two, long states away, it's as if we went to another world, my kids think. They love seeing their cousins, their grandparents, aunts and uncles. They relish in the sleeping in a hotel and watching TV in the morning.
They get excited that they get to sleep in and maybe even get a day off from school.
I, on the other hand, find this trip to visit my family (which we do at least twice or three times a year) to be difficult on so many levels.
First, I hate, and I really do mean hate, being so far away from my family. For reasons that are best for everyone, I live in Southern California, and they live in the Pacific Northwest. Every time we go there, I long for them more and more. To just hop over and visit, or have my brother come by and hang out while I wash my car would be dreamy. Alas, it is never to be, so I feel like I have to cram in together time. Too much togetherness does not make for the carefree, happy days of my childhood that I think I'm trying to recreate. We just end up getting on each others' nerves.
Second, my mother is in a nursing home. She has a degenerative disease that has her wheelchair bound and unable to walk. (This trip, she held T2 on her lap in the recliner. This was the first time she has held one of my children since they were born. Damn, too, if I didn't leave the camera in said hotel room in the moment that I would have wanted to capture the most.) Nursing homes and small children don't mix, people. I think you get the picture. I wish that she didn't have this disease. I wanted my kids to have a grandmother who would babysit or take them to the park or walk with them. This is not what we have, so I have to take whatever time with her I can get.
Finally, the over-stimulated, TV-laden, junk-food haven nirvana that my kids find this trip to be is exasperating for me. While trying to create all the together time mentioned above, my kids get my shortened temper, lack of consistent discipline, and annoyance. Sometimes it's hard just to keep them moving forward. They, too, find each other intolerable after 16 straight hours together. Their short fuses combined with mine are a volatile combination.
And then, after 4 days, it's over. I'm back home and wondering how soon we can go back.
I was filled with a kind of ennui today as I went back to my routine. Something about the trip, despite all of its difficulties, is exciting, a way to escape the everyday. A vacation it's not, but I'll take the trip anyway, and many more like it.