Our family just returned from a 53.5 hour long family vacation. We stayed at my in laws’ house at the river. Why was it only 53.5 hours long? Well, it’s a long story so I’ll paraphrase. Day one was great. We swam, barbequed and played games with the kids. Life was good. Day two was less than great. In fact, it was down right miserable. The kids grew tired of the heat, the water, their raw little piggies and being in a strange house. They reacted to this discomfort by fighting and whining. After threatening them with severe consequences trying to resolve their obvious displeasure with the situation, we decided to cut the trip short and head home.
Family vacations are not for the faint of heart, nor the blessed of quivers. My mother in law called, this morning, to inquire about our early departure from their house. I explained the difficulties of our vacation, as she laughed in understanding. She then recounted the three times in forty five years, that her own large family took vacations. She was always pregnant. She always had a baby. They never had money. Taking thirteen kids on a road trip sounds down right hellish to me. I cannot imagine living that nightmare. I listened intently, as she described their trip to Oregon. The boys decided to play, “never leave your ribs open.” When that got boring, they switched to “never leave your jaw open.” She recalled how terribly long the journey in the van was. I’m sure she wished for ear plugs and a valium at times. My mother in law is a very patient and self sacrificing woman. Those trips must have been purely labors of love. One time, she even put off telling her husband that she was pregnant again, just so that he would enjoy the trip. Did I say she was patient and self sacrificing? I take that back, she’s a freakin’ saint.
I feel almost silly to complain to her, about my own stress and lack of patience to endure seven kids’ whining. Yet, she never makes me feel silly. She echoes my sentiments of wanting to give our kids great memories of family vacations, then ending up wanting to pull every last hair out of my head by the time we get back home. I know that she loves her children and enjoys motherhood, for the most part. It makes me fully appreciate her honesty about the fact that motherhood is not always roses and family vacations are far from perfect. She assures me that, someday, I will look back and laugh at our misadventures in the 15 passenger van. I asked her why and she she said that I’d start to forget some of the not so great stuff. “For now,” she advised, “plan a trip with just you and your husband and I’ll help watch the kids.” I asked her if she ever left the kids for a romantic weekend. “Yes,” she chuckled, “but that’s another story…”
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