I should be packing.
I should be thinking about what clothes I will wear for the next seven days, find them and put them in a suitcase.
Instead I’m standing in the middle of the room looking at a pile of laundry, half expecting it to get up and walk across the floor by itself.
It’s that time of year again: Summer vacation. It is a week in the life of a family during which the strict schedule of the workday transfers onto the itinerary of leisure.
Soon my husband will be breathing down my neck: “Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet? It’s time to go. ARE-YOU-READY-YET??? … WE-SHOULD-GET-GOING!!”
It used to be simple in the days before kids. I’d pack my bag days before departure. When it was time to head out all I’d have to do is toss it in the car and go.
But after the kids come something dark happens.
All the organizational skills I once took for granted have disappeared.
I am not one of those mothers whose bag typically contains the magical panaceas known to cure preschooler ennui. “Hmm,” I say during any given public meltdown, “Our crayons and coloring books must be in my other bag.”
I’m not exactly sure what happened. Perhaps it was the understanding that the baggage of children is more than figurative: travel with children includes packing most of the possessions they own. That pretty much sums it up.
You can try to take five books, but invariably it will be the one you leave behind that they’ll pine for.
You may THINK you need seven changes of clothes, but because you will be away from home and potentially away from laundry facilities, you will more likely need seven times that amount.
Once you’ve gone from room to room, gathering all the toys and books and clothes, you must not forget to empty the bathroom and the kitchen. Eventually the kids will have to wash and brush their teeth, and that doesn’t just include a tube of paste and a toothbrush but also every single bath toy that’s ever floated in the tub.
Who has the baggage to pack that?
Where will you pack your own clothes? How will you fit it all in the car?
Simple. You try and cut back on what you pack for yourself.
You wear the same three things anyway, why bother bringing more? Do you really need an alternate pair of shoes? Toiletries are really overrated. The motel provides miniature versions of things you can’t afford to buy anyway. And the kids’ tear-free suds will do in a pinch.
That book you planned on reading? Forget it. Save the bulk. The minute you sit down to read, one kid or another will be climbing in your lap clamoring for you to read all about Goldilocks or some silly bear that went over a mountain.
You fling as much bulk as you can. But the weight wins out.
What vacation can be had without cameras and computers and cell phones? We can’t really unplug in these high-tech times. A vacation from modern conveniences is really no vacation at all. Can we really get that far without the portable DVD player and 120 hours of animated bliss?
It’s funny how normally we get from place to place accompanied by word games and music on the radio. The kids nap and we talk. Those are short trips, though, where time somehow seems more of a premium.
I look out the window my husband, who is throwing the travel crib and the bikes in the back of the “van.” I can’t even remember what I’ve packed in my almost-full bag. I know it won’t be long until he’s going to be trying to round up the troops and head out. It’s just me and my bag he’s waiting for.
“Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet? It’s time to go. ARE-YOU-READY-YET??? … WE-SHOULD-GET-GOING!!”
I know I’m forgetting something. But now I’m fairly certain it doesn’t matter.