Picture this. Your family is getting ready to go on vacation. While you typically drive to save money, this time you are flying to your destination. Everyone is excited – there will be a lot of new experiences, plus some reminiscing because you are going to a location where you used to live and two of your children were born. The weather is supposed to be nice the whole trip; it’s obviously all sunshine and rainbows.
Okay, maybe it’s just me, but getting ready for a vacation is my worst nightmare. Our family is heading out on the vacation I just described in about 36 hours. While we’ve had these plans for five months, we’re frantically scrambling to get everything together. Three days ago, we were still planning what we were actually going to do for the majority of the trip. When you have six children with a ten year age range from youngest to oldest, it’s not always easy to find activities that will appeal to everyone. We asked the kids what they wanted to do. Their answers ranged from “I have no idea what’s even there?” (the guide books have been sitting on the kitchen table for a month) to “I want to go to the Death Museum” (that’s not happening by the way). After much Internet searching, texting people we know in the area, and scouring the activity guides, we think we have a general idea of our plan of action. This will most likely go flying out the window as soon as we get off the plane for reasons yet unknown, but that seems to be the course for all our vacations.
Since we are flying, the children cannot take their usual glut of food, drinks, electronic devices, toys, blankets and pillows, and contraband we won’t even get into. I made an exact packing list for each person in the house, with detailed information about the weather, the type of clothing that is appropriate, and what they can and can’t take on the plane. Within five minutes I heard, “Mom, I don’t understand this list.” “Mom, this says there are no outlets on the plane, that’s a joke, right?” “Mom, can I take a pocketknife on the plane?” “Mom, do you really have to check my stuff to make sure it’s ok?” “Mom, I can’t find my packing list”. My sighs of exasperation could be heard echoing through the house.
Fast forward to the present time. We discovered that one of the brand new suitcases we bought just for this trip is going to be too big for the plane’s guidelines. Three of my children have brought me all their clothes that need to be packed, but the rest of us haven’t even started to pack. I insisted that the house be thoroughly straightened before we leave as someone is coming to clean while we are gone because, silly me, I planned a big party for the week we get back. Three children’s rooms still look like they have no floors, and my room, which is a dumping ground for everything from laundry to broken curtain rods, looks like a tornado hit. I realized yesterday that my dogs are both filthy due to recent rain leading to an excess of mud in our yard, and they both need haircuts so they can actually see. I keep getting phone calls that I have items that need to be picked up at various stores around town. I have none of the information I need for the trip printed out, I am still trying to catch up on laundry, my children seem to have forgotten how to put dishes in the dishwasher over the past two days, I can’t find an important charging cord that I need…
But it will all get done eventually. It always does, no matter how many times we do this pre-vacation dance of doom. Will we likely forget something important? Yes. That’s why we have debit cards. Will everything go exactly as planned on the trip? Probably not. Our family is a shining example of the expression, “Make a plan, and God laughs.” Will there be times I want to take the rental car and hide somewhere no one will find me for at least three days? Most definitely. Will the sounds of petty sibling squabbles reach my ears a minimum of 15 times over the next 10 days? I guarantee it. But when we finally get home, and the suitcases have been unpacked, and the pictures have been shared with everyone we have ever met and a few people we haven’t, we will look back, and smile, and most certainly say, “Where are we going next year?”