Vacation is often nice because it is when you relax and you let go of your every day teething problems, when it is actually OK not to shower every day and when sweat pants do not mean being a slob but a laid back girl. It also often breaks the Ugly-you free…
All in all it was a success. We came back from our vacation in Vermont alive, with all our kids, still married, and hopefully still friends with the people we went away with. Vacations are never easy but winter vacation is probably the worst. First, it is impossible to look good. Safety comes first and no one looks sexy with a ski helmet, no one. Ski vacation is also the one and only instance when multi-layering is not fashionable but a true nightmare. Five people with five layers of clothing each in a car for five hours…Not good.
Second, the logistics were maddening: 5 hours drive in a seven seater that contained 3 car seats, 1 snowboard, 2 sledges, 1 high chair, 100 diapers, 6 luggage pieces full of clothes and 24 bottles of wine. Wonder why Thor and Archibald preferred to take the train rather than ride for free with our cute family…Go figure.The vacation house, curtesy of some generous architect friends, was a peaceful, at least until we got there, retreat in the middle of woods. Out of this world design, in other words: a mouse trap for babies. Open fire place, check, dangerous staircases, check, rail free mezzanine, check etc. As a result, there was always at least one adult on shift to make sure none of the kids would slip through the stairs. It was like Baywatch without the orange swim trunks, the sand or Pamela Anderson.This time away from home was full of epiphanies as one is meant to get them when it is too cold outside and one stays stuck inside with babies who act like teenagers (i.e. sulking on the sofa with the IPad) and men in their early forties who act like teenagers (i.e. drinking from midday onwards and singing to a tripod as if it was a retro microphone on the Madison Square Garden stage).Among other things, I realized that the prerequisites for a true vacation included:
– Self-control. I really have to stop diving into sofas during adult party time as if I was at a rock concert because a-it hurts, b-it does not look pretty to let the ‘Sharpei’, as I now call my belly, jiggle in the air before falling flat on the sofa, and c-it makes me lose all credibility with my daughter who got woken up by our dreadful rendition of Bette Midler’s The Rose and thus witnessed the ‘Silly Dive’. Every time I tried to make P do anything after the ‘Dive’, I was met with a disapproving look and sigh. Authority – over and gone.
– Flexibility. I had to adopt a new ‘vacation diet’ for the kids. Not only it was disheartening to see homemade food thrown onto the floor but it was also screwing up my diet big time. What is the point of counting calories or weighing the amount of meat I am eating if I am swallowing the kids’ buttery leftovers? So I gave up and the kids basically fed themselves with cookies and goldfish for the entire week. Like cats, only dry food.Very relaxing, you should try.
– Acceptance. I had to understand that bedtime was never going to be DH and I in a king size bed looking quietly at the view of the snow and the woods . I had to accept that it was going to be the five of us fighting over a blanket in the middle of the night. Indeed, it became clear after the first night that, for the kids, vacation meant slumber party i.e. ‘let’s wake the parents up, spill our milk on their faces and push them out their bed for fun EVERY night’.
– Support. It is imperative that the people who are vacationing with you are not going to judge you when they see glimpses of Evil-you. When you leave the kids’ room all flustered, take deep breaths and finally say: ‘I almost smacked her. I don’t get hit. If people touch my head, I bite their heads off. That is what I do. She just kept kicking me hard and smacking me and there is nothing I can do…I really, really almost smacked her’, that is exactly when you need a friend like Archibald who hears you, does not say a word nor blink an eye and pours you a glass of wine. That is the thing with vacation; there is no escape: you breathe the same air every single minute, you sleep together, you go to the bathroom together (do remember the open fire place situation before judging) etc. People have killed each other for less.
This is probably why a lot of my friends with kids chicken out of going away and stay-cation has become the new ‘St Barts’. Basically, they don’t go to work but do not leave the City.In fact it is business as usual: the nanny works or the kids still go to the day care or the grand parents still mind the children. What do they do during this time? Most popular activities include: dining downtown in a non child friendly restaurant, go to the dentist or the hairdresser, do their citizenship application or renew their passport and book a hotel room to have sex. Maybe I should try this?
Oh well…As part of human self-preservation, the bad memories will eventually disappear, as my BFF Natasha likes to say, and only the good ones, such as Thor and Archibald pulling the kids around on their sledges, the dancing, the cooking and eating of a 3lbs steak stuffed with foie gras and wrapped in puff pastry or the me driving a mini-van on winding roads without killing anyone, will remain after a while. And if this process takes too long, I guess I can always look at our vacation pictures or even better the pictures we did put on Facebook, also known as ‘Look at us Friends how fun it was, aren’t you jealous?’ pictures to motivate me for the next vacation.