This past week my family of four went on a small “vacation”. Yes, I put vacation in quotations, because leaving your home for an extended period of time with a three and five-year-old is not really a vacation.
Oddly, the smoothest part of our trip was the five-hour car ride. Maybe it’s because I packed the most obnoxious bag of road trip snacks you’ve ever seen. The backseat looked like the snack aisle of a 7-eleven, and both kids had a fully-charged iPad. Judge me if you will, I don’t even care. If snacks and screen time equal a quiet car ride, I will make it rain Skittles all up in that minivan.
Before I knew it, we arrived at our hotel. I’ve seen those hotel booking commercials—the kids are smiling, eager to get in the pool, the wife is pleasantly surprised by the lovely view, and the husband can’t stop drooling over the mini bar. Well, I call bullshit. Or maybe it’s just my family—we are a more disgruntled, lost, sweaty version of those commercials.
Part of the problem is the luggage. No matter how cautiously I pack, we always end up with 30 pieces of luggage, each one weighing roughly one million pounds. This makes it extra fun when you get lost on the way to your room, that the front desk lady assured you was just around the corner, up the stairs, and to your right. LIES!
By the time we made it into the actual hotel, after our journey from self-parking, one kid had to pee so bad she was “about to die”, and the other one was “starving” even though he’d just eaten everything from our backseat 7-eleven. While silent, my husband was annoyed as I lead him around Hotel Labyrinth like a glorified pack mule.
Eventually, some kind-hearted man saw the look of murder in my husband’s eyes and asked if he could help us. At this point I was sweating like a whore in church as he ushered us to our room—which happened to be only 10 feet away from where he found us. Excellent. There’s nothing I love more than looking desperately incompetent.
I thanked him, and assured him we could take it from here, but like any good customer service representative, he wanted to make sure we got in the room “without any trouble.” I really can’t blame him, we looked like a scary blend of the Clampetts and the Griswolds.
My oldest child was now dancing around, holding her crotch with both hands, despite my constant redirection, because history shows this is the best way to not pee on yourself. I fumbled with the keycard as my three-year-old ran up and down the hall shouting nonsense like an angry, feral child. I’d like to blame five hours of immobility and sugar, but he’s three, and just a little bit of an asshole.
As a whole, we were a complete disaster. I just wanted to get in the room, so I could get my crazy children under control, and maybe stop sweating profusely, but I couldn’t seem to get the card reader to work. I attempted to remain calm on the outside, because hotel guy was watching me, but my internal dialogue was a bit more unstable, “Is it a chip?! Do I swipe?! What the hell is going on?! JUST LET ME IN THIS DAMN ROOM ALREADY!”
And then, by the grace of God, the door opened.
My three-year-old burst into the room, nearly knocking over the hotel staffer as he ran to play in the toilet, his sister screaming behind him, “Nooooooo! Me first!”
I thanked the man, again, as he made his way out of the room—probably fearing for his safety at that point. I took a deep breath as I pushed the door shut behind him. We had been there less than an hour and I realized I hadn’t brought enough alcohol to survive three days of this. Vacationing with small children is exhausting, and anyone who tells your otherwise is either lying, or they have superpowers and a nanny.
The remainder of our trip was similar to our hotel arrival—I was really sweaty, my husband was annoyed, and one of the kids was constantly having a stage-five meltdown. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun, because we did. We made precious memories and all that jazz, but I’ve never been more exhausted than I was the night we returned home from our “vacation”.
Next time I need some time away, I think I’ll just get a babysitter and a hotel room down the road. Maybe a bottle of wine.