The Mom of No: Vacation time


The Family of No recently went on our summer beach vacation. We all had a great time, relaxing on the beach as the waves crashed onto the shore and pelicans flew overhead, diving for fish in the surf. The Son of Never Stops Eating built sandcastles, and I added some new birds to my life list. Everything went well, except some minor sunburn pain and some traffic on the way home, which was only to be expected since our route took us right through two major cities.

However, the preparation to go on vacation turns me into the Mom of Everything Must be Sparkling Clean in This House. When I am preparing to go on vacation, I feel the strong urge to leave my house in pristine condition. Beds should be made (preferably with clean sheets); the refrigerator should be nearly empty except for stuff that has a long life, like mustard, and everything should be swept, dusted and put away in its place. Bills should all be paid and all library books should be returned prior to departure. The e-mail in-box, both at work and at home, should be cleared of all messages. Absolutely no task must be left undone.

I suspect that the family mutt knows when we are going on vacation when I start cleaning out the fridge. She stands by the open refrigerator door looking sad and I know she knows that her people are leaving her for several days. Either that, or she is interpreting the open refrigerator to mean that she might possibly get a piece of cheese if she manages to look cute enough. That dog’s motto in life is “You can never have too much cheese.”

I instructed the teenagers to clean their rooms before departure, and all I can say about that is that their definition of proper pre–vacation cleaning is definitely different than my definition of proper pre–vacation cleaning, although the Son of Never Stops Eating did put all of his Legos in one large pile on his bedroom floor after some maternal nagging.

That’s not what I mean by clean your room, I told him.

Mom, who cares? he responded. Why do you want us to clean the house so much? If someone breaks into the house they won’t care how clean it is!

About two hours before departure, he came to report that he did not have enough shorts to take on vacation with him. They were all too small. This, despite my constant questioning — ok, nagging — during the two weeks prior to vacation about do you have everything? Do we need to go get anything? Tell me now! I don’t want to hear about it two hours before we leave this house!

That can’t be right, I told him. I know you have shorts that fit because we just bought some a couple of months ago. What happened to those shorts?

I don’t know, he replied. They’re somewhere. I don’t know what happened to them. Maybe they disappeared in the washing machine.

After donning my hazmat gear and embarking on an investigative foray into his closet, I discovered the new shorts wadded up in a ball on a shelf. These shorts? I asked him, holding them up. Remember, we bought these shorts? Ooohhh, he replied, staring at them like he’d never seen them before in his life, I forgot about THOSE!

Packing crisis averted.

Finally, we were ready to leave. The fridge was clean, the gas tank was full, the luggage was packed neatly in the back of the car along with the sand castle building supplies and the beach chairs, and everyone had all their technology and charger cords. We pulled out of the driveway, ready to hit the open road. About a mile down the road, we had one more crisis to avert: did we or did we not lock the garage door?

You know how this works: if you don’t go back and check, the door is unlocked. If you do go back and check, the door was locked. We went back to check, because it wouldn’t be a Family of No road trip without having to go back home one last time. The door was, of course, locked.

The second departure was the charm, and soon we were on the beach, relaxing, building sand castles and jumping in the surf. When we got home several days later, all was well, until I told the Son of Never Stops Eating that I’d seen school supplies out on a refrigerator restocking run. Vacation was over.

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