When Vacation Isn’t


(Please note that I am sinking into the sand here. I told you I never carry both of them.)

Woe is me: my beach vacation was hard! Just before I packed my 3 diapered children off to the beach, I saw an article from The Onion entitled “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean”. I actually elle-oh-elled. (Okay, I’m totally snorting while reading it again right now.) The last line is, “At press time, [mom]  was reportedly busy preparing a meal identical to what she would have made back home, except that she planned to serve it on paper plates.”

Oh, this is such a First World Problem. (Or, as my college roommate would say, “A White Person Problem”.) I suck. I will complain about my vacation when most people don’t even get vacations. Let me serve some cheese with my whine. Or get out my mini-violin. Go get your tissues, people, this is gonna be a tearjerker!

My mom always said, “Why would anyone want to stay in a beach house instead of a motel? If I wanted to makes beds and do dishes and cook, I would’ve stayed home.” I guess she wrote that Onion article.

Mr. Okayest and I were a perfectly matched beach couple. We both liked to spend all day (and I mean all day) on the beach. We read books, we napped until we were too hot to breathe, and then we jumped in the ocean and kissed between dodging waves. Repeat. At night, we went out to dinner and took moonlit walks and dared each other to swim in the black ocean. We did this for years and years, and it was the one thing that I loved about not having children. (Maybe the other thing would have been my Mormon Nap after church on Sundays.) I think the beach was the one place I felt content without children.

Fast forward a decade.

Woe is me. In addition to normal vacation gear, I had to pack formula, baby food, a potty seat, a stool, two high chairs, two pack n’ plays, a baby gate, three floaties, one blankie, diapers, pull-ups, night diapers, swim diapers, and wipes for the beach. I had to spend the first sunny morning shopping at the Food Lion with my cousin. I had to plan and prepare dinners and lunches that would appeal to six kids, ages six and under. I had to keep all my children from drowning, burning, or dehydrating. I had to convince all my children to sleep in a strange place because this is fun. I had to do dishes and wash bottles and clean the dang floor under the high chairs three times a day, because we didn’t bring the dog along to do it for me!

Woe is me. I hauled cranky children into the house for every lunchtime and naptime (2 twins x 2 naps per day). I hauled slimey suncreened children back out of the house for every beach time, praying that they didn’t pee on me while they were smooshed into their too-tight pee-through swim diapers. I dealt with vacation-inspired diaper rash so bad that it called the doctor all by itself. I had to bathe my children way more than I ever do at home, because of the sand/ diaper rash/ sunscreen patina. I had to let my oldest kid get knocked down by a wave so he would have a healthy fear of the ocean.

You know what? SO WORTH IT!

So worth it: Mr. Okayest was with us for days on end – no work, no grad school, no homework, no car repairs or house repairs, and, oh yeah,  no house chores that he has to do because his wife didn’t. (At home, I call myself a “garage widow”.) I loved having his help with the babies, but mostly I just loved seeing his tanned, scruffy, beautiful face all day, every day. I miss his face when he goes to work.

So worth it: my serious introverted toddler actually had fun. Fun. This kid can sometimes go an entire day without smiling….but here, at the beach with his cousins, he was laughing. He was running and jumping and splashing and sand-castle-building and pretending weird things.

So worth it: My kids slept better in a strange place than they do at home. Must have been all that sunshine. And all those rowdy cousins.

So worth it: I did get to swim in the ocean with my husband a few times (i.e., he threw me in) because there were more adults back on the beach to help out. I did get to sneak out to dinner and go on romantic moonlit walks on the beach with my husband after the kids went to bed, because there were more adults back at the house to stay with the kids. It had been a loooong time.


And, lest I forget, here are three more vacation-related things for which I am grateful:
1) We did not get evacuated for a hurricane this year. We were actually evacuated two years in a row.
2) I was not on bedrest this year. Thankfully my cousin bought out our share of the beach vacation last year, after the doctor forbade me to go.
3) Most importantly, we are not the owners of that beach house. It was falling into the ocean – much like the one we rented last year, which has fallen into the ocean.



5 thoughts on “When Vacation Isn’t

  1. LOL this house looks like one we use to use in Kitty Hawk area. I agree about the vacation. We went for 2 weeks when David was 3 months old. I was barely able to carry him yet and didn’t do much, but the ocean is healing. I was away from my house in the fresh air and we needed the break. Yes there was the extra luggage to pack and haul and more shopping and some extra work. But husband helped because he wasn’t at work all day. Glad you got away to recharge your batteries.


  2. OK, love this. So true. Sometimes vaca is harder on Mom. Next year, please get your group together to come to Topsail Beach, NC! Not only is it empty this time of year (see FB photos) but I would come over to help! Lots of beach rentals for families and no crowds and no tatoo parlors! Only 5+ hours from you! xoxo Mama Wadlow


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