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06/24/2010

A vacation, forbidding mourning

Oh.  Man.  Thank you for your kind words on my last entry.  I've had moments in the life of this blog where I've felt disengaged or discouraged, but everything you've said makes me feel like an ass for indulging.  It's a good kind of ass-feeling, though.  Healthful ass.  Therapeutic ass.  Voting for the RESOLVE award continues, I think, through the end of the day Thursday; regardless of the outcome, I thank you.  Your support means more to me than any trophy [NSFW] ever could.

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Feeling kind of glum here overall.  You know how when an object enters the earth's upper atmosphere — say, a meteorite or a spacecraft returning from a mission — gravity and friction...do something...physics-related...that gets it all hot and makes it disintegrate and shower giant searing chunks of spacerockmetal and stuff? 

You may know.  Apparently I do not.  But I do know an apt metaphor when I endure one, painfully, and my post-vacation re-entry has been like that.

And it's obvious, I know, considering where we went.  Who wouldn't prefer what one guest called "the kind of vacation I'd always dreamed of, but never thought I'd find" to doing, well, just about anything we do in our daily lives?  Of course it would be a bit of a shock to go from all that to...all this.  Yes, yes, your job is great and your kids are wonderful and you're quite content overall.  Me, too.  But I can assure you that no matter how fantastic your everyday existence is, the Tyler Place experience is objectively better than real life in every conceivable way.  To wit:


Tyler Place Real Life
Child care (preschooler) Making sure swim gear and sun hat are in Charlie's backpack before merrily waving him off as he lopes down to the clubhouse "If you don't get dressed now I'll take you to school in your underpants, which is gonna look really extra-stupid with your lunchbox and your rain boots."
Child care (toddler) Parents' helper: "I didn't know if you wanted me to give Ben a bath, but I did — I thought he might sleep better. I know it always helps me..." Ben: "Ha! I pulled off my socks in the back seat of the car! Now you are powerless to help me replace them!...Huh. You know, this kind of sucks."
Accommodations Immaculate cottage with daily cleaning service, easily kept tidy with five minutes' work What feels kind of like the Winchester Mystery House, only here every doorway and convoluted corridor leads to a swirling vortex of superfluous crap
Dining Seven straight nights of convivial adults-only dinners Ben keening, "All fini'! All fini'!" three bites into my meal, an early warning of the rice-scattering to come
Kids' entertainment A climbing wall, bikes for every kid, a bounce house, ponies, a zip line, fishing, two swimming pools, and more
A tired wad of Play-Doh — to be more accurate, a snot-green amalgam of several colors of Play-Doh — shot through with Goldfish crumbs and Ebolavirus
Adults' entertainment Hammocks, kayaks, books, massage, yoga, cocktails, board games, sailing, biking, company or solitude
Collapsing on the sofa immediately after dinner/bath/bedtime, a broken woman, groaning, "Screw this.  Next time I'm just serving them the Play-Doh."

Truly, my toughest decisions all week were whether to stay in one hammock or move to another when a guest by the lakeside began practicing her violin, beautifully (stay); whether I should wake Ben from his three-hour nap to walk him over to the pool to swim with friends (yes); and whether it was a good idea to ride the zip line in a skirt (wheeeeeeee).  No motels to research, no ground to cover, no tips to figure, no restaurants to chance, no lines to negotiate — none of the usual logistical bullshit that makes so many so-called vacations harder than staying at home.

So of course I'm mopey, and that's to be expected.  I miss it.  I miss the indolence and the beauty of the lake and the knowledge that while I was doing exactly what I wanted, my kids were doing exactly what they wanted, too: I miss that all too rare feeling of Everybody wins.  I miss the gorgeous food, the early bedtimes, the conversations with my husband about something other than the kids.  (Mostly we talked about how nice it was not to talk about the kids.  Hey.  It counts.)  I miss my mom, who was there again this year.  I miss Julia, who was there with her family, too; one of the high points of my week occurred when Charlie, with the humility befitting a worshipful supplicant, offered to show Patrick something special from his backpack.  And Patrick — I swear he was serious — asked, "Is it your math homework?"

And I've joked a lot, while I was there and when I've written about it, about how nice it was to have some time apart from the kids.  (Shortly after the evening kids' program began, I greeted a woman in the bar by chirping, "Isn't this liberating?" and she answered a little sadly, "Actually, I find being with my kids quite liberating."  Julia's husband Steve later revealed that he'd had exactly the same exchange with her not three minutes before I came.  Lovely woman, awwwwkwarrrrd start.)  It was nice.  But it was equally nice — okay, almost equally — to have time with them where I was responsible only for enjoying their company, slathering on the sunscreen, and maybe rustling up a snack or two.  Oh, and buckling the bike helmets as needed.

Ben-bike

It's a vacation, a real live vacation, where the adults are liberated — yeeeaaah, I said it — from pretty much every annoying chore associated with daily family life as well as those we normally think of as inevitable even on vacation.  It's an expensive proposition, to be sure.  (It costs a million dollars per person.  There.  I have forestalled any incredulity you might evince if you look at the weekly rates.  So far I have sold two-thirds of my liver to afford it, leaving juuust enough to metabolize their bartender's excellent mojitos.  For sale for next summer: several gallons of plasma.)  But it's the only way I know of for everyone, kids and parents alike, to enjoy a vacation equally.  If this appeals to you at all, let me get all evangelistic here: Go.  Sell whatever body parts you need to.  You will never find a better place to take your family, and you can always grow another aorta.  Trust me.  I'm good at science.

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So, back at home, back to normal, and having a hard time adjusting.  I want to write about my dad tomorrow, which is sure to make me even sloppier; to shore up my mood pre-emptively I'll show you two pictures I love.

Charlie-paper 

Charlie, 10 months

Ben-washing-car 

Ben, 23 months

They don't look anything alike, but, oh, the similar expressions on those faces — you know, I really do like those kids, despite what that lady in the bar must have thought.

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