Fret About Vacation

I just read the ‘welcome back from mid-winter break’ email from my daughter’s room mom – one of the many volunteer ‘opportunities’ at my children’s school – which started off with, “Trust you had a wonderful, relaxing and renewing break,” before going on to list reminders for the week. My break was neither relaxing nor renewing because in my world ‘family vacation’ is an oxymoron.
Does this mean our family is dysfunctional? Am I an awful mother because spending extended, uninterrupted time with my children makes me want to scream? Am I the only one willing to admit that my break wasn’t wonderful?
I’m more exhausted now then when I left for this just-completed family vacation. Between the altitude (which caused another indignity of aging, altitude sickness for the first time in my life but more on this later) – and the kids, I need a vacation from my vacation. And, although happy that both children had a great time skiing with their father (more about my non-gliding self another time – I fear that this also makes me a lousy mother) this was not a vacation for me in the restful and rejuvenating sense. It was work – and a lot of it. Am I marginalizing my children in the event that all of their classmates did have wonderful, relaxing and renewing breaks?

Every image Google popped onto my screen when I typed in ‘family vacation’ showed joyous quartets and sextets frolicking on beaches, building snowmen – none of them reflected the exhaustion that I find a family vacation to be. There was no image of a mother carrying a tremendous amount of equipment while children walked near cliffs (both literal and metaphorical) almost falling (always literally) as their father told the other parent in the photo to ‘calm down’. My family does not fit what the pictures presented as true – there is something wrong with us. Despite my best efforts to attend to every family members need, clearly my desire to spend some time away from my tikes and spouse insures that I am setting my children up for therapy. Great, now in addition to a 529, I have to start a therapy fund… which would leave less money for vacations giving me less time to scar my kids… but also less time for the bits of joy that can be found in every adventure.

Family vacations are a lot of work, to plan, to pay for and to go on. I do wonder if someday my family vacations will conjure images of mutual enjoyment and relaxation like those staring at me (accusingly?) from the Googled pictures. But for now, I gaze at my navel and fear that my attitude is scarring my children deeply and giving my daughter yet another reason to try to kill me.


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