I have been looking forward to summer, as I'm sure you can imagine. I'm going to do all of the things that I haven't had time to do while I played nanny. I'm going to get the garden back in shape, I'm going to catch up on my sleep, and I'm going to spend a week at the beach (something I have done almost every year since I was a child). I love the beach - the sun, the sand, the sea. The mere smell of sunscreen alone can calm my nerves and brighten my mood. Vacations are important that way. They create wonderful memories and allow tranquility to seep into the soul. Of course not all vacations are equal. In fact some vacations are not vacations at all. Some vacations are ordeals, exercises in stamina and endurance, annoyance and frustration, exasperation and dissatisfaction. You mothers with small children, you know what I'm talking about – "The Vacation From Hell".
When you are a mother, especially one with small children, the chances of experiencing a true vacation are remote. Assuming, that is, that you define a vacation as I do – a time when you get to relax, get away from the normal routine, and do the things that you want to do. Unfortunately, doing what you want to do while simultaneously seeing to the needs of your demanding brood, which includes your husband, is extremely hard if not damn near impossible to do. How can I do what I want to do when "they" need me to help them do what they want to do? Sure it's fun and rewarding to help your children, which includes your husband, do fun and rewarding things but I get to do that all year long. A vacation is for doing what you don't normally do. Being mommy, wife, housekeeper, dishwasher, cook, chauffeur, hostess and referee is not a vacation just because you can see the ocean. In fact, the fact that you can see the ocean probably means that you have more work to do than when you are at home. Cooking for your family plus guests, applying sunscreen to kids who don't want it on, making sure your loved ones don't drown, burn, get lost, lose their bikini tops, lose their bikini bottoms, track sand into the house, drink sunscreen, get too close to the grill, snag each other with fish hooks, eat the bait, all the while simultaneously making sure that everyone has a great time is not exactly "adventures in paradise". The salt see air, pleasant though it may be, is not worth falling into bed exhausted a 9pm every night.
Don't get me wrong. I love spending time with my family, especially now that the kids are grown and raising their own. I miss them. When we all get together for a week at the beach this summer it will be something I have been longing for since this time last year. But just once I would like to experience the fantasy I always had when I was a harried mother, the dream vacation that every woman deserves. I want to lie on the beach, no scratch that, I want to fall asleep on the beach, dive into the surf whenever I happen to wake up, go for long or short walks alone, wear a bikini so small that the kids would be scandalized (and have the booty to match it), eat out every night, have too much to drink whenever I damn well please and not worry about anyone but myself for one whole week. Is that too much to ask? I think that I, along with every other mother worth her salt, have earned it. If there is any reward for the righteous then heaven will be a deserted beach with warm water, bright sun, and white sand stretching off into infinity with no one in sight, or even in existence, except the accommodating cabana boy who materializes - tall, tanned and drink in hand - whenever I snap my fingers. Take me now lord.