Family Vacation

At the end of this month we're going to try something: We're all going to the beach together. "All" includes five grown sons, three wives (one of whom will be 10 months pregnant), two 2-year-old toddlers,and one 5-month-old baby. Thankfully, everybody will be leaving the dogs and the 14-pound cat somewhere else. This is a big event for us because it will be the first time we have ALL been on vacation together in 7 years, and at that time there were no wives or babies! I'm pretty hyped about this trip because we have been talking about it for months. Everybody is making good suggestions,i.e., how to divide the responsibilities for our night meals among the couples (the two bachelors are considered a couple, much to their chagrin), what games we want to play, when to set up tee times for golf and what day to arrange deep sea fishing.

This all brings back the memory that is indelibly burned in my mind of a family vacation we took when the boys were very young and I was the ONLY planner. This is how I recorded the memory in my journal:

"Our Family Vacation: Recipe for Disaster"

This year we decided to take a two-week family vacation. It was to be a special time for the whole family. Our youngest was two years old.

I began to make preparations for departure about a month in advance. I had planned menus, shopped for groceries, made lists, washed and packed clothes. (I had to unpack most of them because we didn't have anything left in the drawers to wear.)

Eventually everything was stored in the basement playroom: The "Port-a-Crib," five boxes of groceries (there were no grocery stores on the island where we we staying),fishing gear,four large boxes of "Pampers," two ice chests, beach paraphernalia,and four pillowcases full of toys.

The eve of our departure finally arrived. I had checked my list (twice) and everything was in one area except the neatly packed suitcases which were open in the bedrooms. I failed to notice that the two-year-old had stayed in the basement.

As I was busy in the kitchen, the oldest son came to tell me that his baby brother was "playing in the groceries." He had found the family size tea bags and had ripped them all open.I ran downstairs, grabbed him, and decided it was his bedtime.The oldest son vacuumed the tea and the youngest son protested his early bedtime at the top of his lungs for an hour and a half before finally settling down. I began to feel somewhat in control of everything until I opened the door to my bedroom and found our suitcases completely empty with a big pile of clean, crumpled clothes on the floor.I knew who to blame. I yanked the unsuspecting baby from his crib, and made him pick up every article of clothing and put them back into the suitcases. I finally collapsed into bed, certain that nothing else could go wrong.

The next morning, Dad pulled the family STATION WAGON to the basement to pack the stuff we were taking. When he saw it he said,"I thought we were going on vacation, not having a yard sale!" (I didn't think that was funny.)Three hours later, I went to check on his progress. The children were running around, "helping" him load the car while I re-checked my list, and offered irrelevant advice and questioning the bumps and bulges in the soft car top carrier we had bought for this occasion. As my husband wiped sweat with one of the new beach towels, I reminded him there were three cantaloupes and a watermelon at the top of the basement stairs.

At that moment, I had one of those mother's intuition thoughts: The two-year-old had found the cantaloupes. I looked up the stairs just in time to see him looking like a baby "Atlas" holding the biggest one over his head.I jumped back just in time to avoid the orange explosion as the melon came bouncing and bursting down the stairs. Seeds, juice, and pulp went everywhere.

I don't remember how much later it was that we finally pulled out of the driveway, looking every bit like the Beverly Hillbillies. And believe me, if I could have, I would have been like Granny and been sitting in a rocking chair on top of the pile!"

Well...I don't know what to expect this year. I hope my daughters-in-law read this, because they will know that I can certainly relate to the efforts and planning that go into a family adventure like this. Sometimes family vacations are just that... for everyone BUT the Mommy. Can anybody say "Amen"?