There are two ways I can write this post.
Post A: My husband took us on a mini vacation. We went to Gulf Shores and Pensacola Beach. It was sunny, beautiful and the kids had a blast. We ate pizza at Mellow Mushroom. I was able to wander around Target and spend a 50 dollar gift card that was just for me. Sea shells were collected, memories were made. I am so happy we were able to get away for a few days. I will treasure the memories in my heart forever.
If you like this version, please log off and never return to my blog. This version is totally true. Now, go on and live life and think well of me. BYE!
Post B: Noticing that I have been stressed for weeks, my husband planned a six day vacation for us in Mobile, AL. It was a trip that would let us enjoy a little history, see some sites and take a couple of trips to the beach if we so desired. Being the dear he is, he did not tell us about the vacation and was working hard to surprise us. Then one day I went out to the mail and we had a letter from the preschool program Levi has been accepted to. There was a mandatory meeting on Thursday the 8th of August. Mandatory. If we did not go he would lose his spot. I relayed this to Jon. He became dark and frowney and said “We’re not going” I told him we had to be there, he said he wouldn’t be here. I asked him why, my stress building, wondering where he was going to take off to and leave me with the kids. (I have been left with the kids for 23454832934859342345 days and my only time away has been grocery shopping trips.) He then became understandably upset and explained how his plans now had a four foot long wrench right in the middle of them. Many times over the next few weeks we growled about the school planning meetings for parents during the last week of summer vacation. We decided we would just make the most of the days we had and leave really early Friday morning.
I was excited and anxious about the trip. We are pretty strapped for money, but we really needed to get away. Not having money adds a tremendous amount of stress during a vacation. We growled about food. I bought food ahead of time. Food that would save us money. I had to whine to get anyone to eat it. After driving seven hours to Gulf Shores we quickly realized that coming down on a Friday was a huge mistake. The room rates doubled. Each place we called was a minimum of 150 dollars a night. Way out of our budget. We chose a location about 15 minutes from the beach to save some, but not much. We had to cut the trip a night short to be able to eat a couple of meals at a restaurant. Finding a room stressed out my husband, which stressed out me.
After getting the room we went to Target to get a few beach necessities. Again, we were complete idiots for not doing all of this at home. I had my gift card and was thrilled to be able to finally get some new make-up and throw my bacteria laden stuff away. We gathered up beach towels, buckets for the sand and other miscellaneous items. I joked with Jon that my 50 gift card was not going to be spent on kids stuff, it was all-for-me. Joke was on me. And him. When we got to the register the gift card wouldn’t work. I spoke with two people and they both said they had never seen a Facebook card before. Great. Instead of parking my butt right there and asking for a manager to figure out what was wrong, we paid cash (cash for souvenirs or other fun stuff) and left feeling defeated. We went to our hotel to change for the beach. Any excitement we felt on the way down was completely gone. The kids were totally oblivious to any of our problems and for that I am thankful.
While Jon brought in the luggage I called the number on the Facebook card and checked my balance. Everything was good to go. What was the problem? Well, I will never know because I could not speak to a human and find out anything. When I tried pressing a bunch of zeroes or the star key, the automated system gave me a polite good-bye and hung up. I called Target and spoke to the store manager. He was very helpful. We were to just bring in the receipt and he would fix it for us. Sweet relief. We headed to the beach and enjoyed Gideon and Levi’s first ocean experience. While unpacking the towels Jon noticed the Target receipt in the bottom of the bag, he shoved it roughly into my purse and expressed how we did NOT need to lose it.
The next morning we ate breakfast and got ready to put the whole Target situation behind us. I checked my purse to make sure we had the receipt. Gone. Of course! We tore the room apart. We checked trash cans. Nothing. We talked about how the Devil is out to get us all the time over every. little. thing. I told Jon we would find it when we got home, because that’s just how things go for us. We decided to go to Target to find out what the problem was, but we knew we would look like huge scammers with no receipt and our sob story. The store manager told us to try and make another purchase and he would go from there. After the first trip to the beach we realized how necessary flip-flops were going to be. So we headed back to the shoe section and found out the flip-flops were all sold out. At least the cheap, wear them to the beach for a few days and then forget about them ones were. They were chock full of designer sandals at sixteen bucks a piece. What a drag. The decision was made to go ahead and spend the gift card on a couple of back to school items. The card worked fine. Sailed right on through, no problem.
I really wanted to spend the day seeing a few beaches. Since we had been to Gulf Shores I thought we could try Pensacola Beach and then hit Orange Beach on our way back. I really wanted to stop at the state park beaches. They looked so beautiful, but each one had a fee so Jon wouldn’t even stop. We went to PB and laid our towels out. Now if you have kids you know setting up all the beach stuff is a pain. As soon as we set up, the lifeguards blew the whistle and told all of us we had to move because there was a rip current. He told us to move down to a nice spot with a sand bar. We moved. The kids had a blast. Gideon got pounded several times. I had tell him 23423534543 times that he was not in an episode of Wild Kratts, he could not just shout out a creature power suit and head out into water higher than his head. The day was going much like the last evening, I was stuck with the kids while Jon had a good old time out in the water. The kids screamed. People looked at my screaming kids. A teenage couple decided to play frisbee right where I was sitting. Levi had to pee. Gideon shouted about having aardvark creature powers and slung sand everywhere. I finally marched down to Jon and told him he was going to have to entertain the kids for a minute so I could get some time in the water. (I’m the only one who even likes the beach and I spent about 15 minutes total in the water!!!!) He told the kids to come with him. I enjoyed the water for a minute and saw Gideon trying to come out where I was, Levi not far behind. Jon was on the towel looking around. I tried to wave the kids off a few times and once or twice they went back by their dad, but eventually I gave up. My time in the ocean was spent with one child clinging to me and exposing my boobs to everyone, the other trying to drown himself while I yelled at him. After an hour, I was exhausted. At least I wasn’t burned.
I think I have written before about how my kids don’t listen. They don’t. Not until someone barks orders at them. This makes for interesting trips to any restaurants. Jon and I never get to talk, we just constantly micromanage the kids. If we don’t they get louder, and louder and louder until we have a crowd staring at us. Some people look at us with a “please go spank that child” look while others have an “if they spank that child I am calling 911″ look. We can’t win. Constantly hissing or barking at your child is exhausting and stressful.
All I feel is bad. Bad for the kids. They were just having fun and being kids. They don’t know that Mommy and Daddy are trying to relax. What is “relax” to children? I feel bad because every step of the way, evil forces were brow beating us and stealing the fun out of everything. I feel bad because more often than not our family trips are labelled as trips from hell. I feel bad because we cannot seem to get it together as a family and have fun. There is sniping, and yelling, and stress. I don’t want to be the parent that gets loud when a child doesn’t understand. I don’t want to be impatient. I don’t want my kids to feel like they are just another stressor. I don’t want my kids to stress me out.
After this vacation I realized more than ever that I need alone time. Just a few hours every week. I need to recharge. When I read blog posts or Facebook posts about moms who are so stressed out I have to wonder, what is their definition of stress? Because it is REALLY hard to see a mom cry about stress when she has her nails done, her hair highlighted, nice clothes and a pedicure. I just want to chuckle with insanity. I am not coveting those things. I could care less about my nails, I care a little about my clothes. What I covet is the time involved in those things. A mother who has time for those things has help. Either a grandmother, sister, or husband who comes in and recognizes when Mom is about to blow. I don’t have that. It makes me really sad, because my children deserve a better, more patient me.
I also realized I need alone time with my husband. We aren’t talking about anything anymore. We just discuss, discuss, discuss. Realizing these two things is one thing, doing them is impossible. We just don’t have a consistent support network, we can’t afford anything. One of the saddest parts of the trip was when my husband said “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can help you not worry about things on vacation.”
I guess we should not have even attempted the trip. Two mandatory meetings came up. We skipped one. The back hatch on the Jeep stopped working because a van rolled into it days before we left. Jon’s mom and stepdad finally took vacation and wanted to see us the weekend we were leaving. When we go home we found out Jon’s dad has cancer, and an old family friend died. Jacob, the 19 y/o was left in charge and didn’t complete anything we told him to do. I had to come home and clean the house. Jon had to mow the lawn for two hours. I took what little energy I had last night and unpacked.
And there, at the bottom of the bag with the blow dryer, make-up, and medicine-neatly folded-was the Target receipt.