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“…Expectations kill relationships. And I’ve known expectations as a disease, silent killer heaping her burdens on the shoulders of a relationship until a soul bursts a pulmonary and dies.” ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Whoever coined the phrase “family vacation,” clearly never checked-in at the airline counter with eight bags of luggage and two car seats. They probably never guided four children through post-911 airport security. And I’m pretty certain they never had to prevent their almost two-year-old from repeatedly slapping the bald spot on the head of the passenger seated in front of them as they flew an hour-and-a-half to their travel destination.
As far as I understand it, taking a vacation assumes that the person vacationing gets a reprieve from work—a little rest and relaxation. Yet recounting just one-half-day of our family’s so-called “vacation,” while humorous at times, is exhausting in it of itself. Imagine living it for seven days strait! The obvious contradiction between what is expected from a vacation and what I experienced is so stark, I’m sure there are several weary parents of young children who will agree with me that a “family vacation” is as mythical an idea as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow—something we could use right about now, given that our trip to Tahoe this winter cost double what we anticipated. (Ouch!)
Don’t get me wrong; I had a BLAST playing in the snow, skiing and riding snowmobiles with my husband and the kiddos. Our joy was multiplied by some of our extended family members joining us for part of the trip. And I am forever grateful for the collective memory we share (good, bad, or otherwise) because an adventure survived together is often what binds people together.
But as much fun as I had, there were times when my frustrations took center-stage because I harbored expectations that didn’t include continually consoling an overtired little boy who had too much fun and not enough sleep; scarfing down meals when our toddler frequently became too disruptive for the other restaurant patrons; or pulling out the credit card when the cash we brought didn’t quite foot the bill. By living for the moment, living in the moment became quite the challenge. Disappointment under such circumstances is almost certain.
Ironically, once we returned home I was able to get the rest I so desperately sought, relatively speaking of course. I guess when you’ve exponentially increased your domestic responsibilities with packing, setting up lodging, organizing activities, and traveling with little children, in comparison, going home is quite the vacation. But considering the expectations I assigned to our vacation versus expecting nothing special in returning home, maybe it’s not the absence of work that made coming home so peaceful—maybe it was simply the absence of expectations.
(Re-post from my blog at Confessions Of A Busy Mama.)