I've come to a conclusion:
|The Family Cabin in the Mountains|
Family vacations are a vacation for everyone except Mom. For Mom, they're basically overtime hours.
It never fails. We'll plan a quick weekend trip to the mountains, and I can't WAIT to get out of the heat. I'm excited to spend time with family we don't see often, relax, play games, eat good food, and just enjoy being with my family.
The days prior to departure, I clean and organize and pack and look forward to the chance to get out of the house. The day we leave is a little stressful with getting everything into the car, and what did we forget, and do we need to eat, and did everyone go potty... but we make it. Before we know it, we're driving north to the cool mountain air and the family Cabin.
On the drive, Mommy is in the passenger's seat (that's me). Since Daddy is driving, it's my job to refill sippy cups, give treats and snacks (or withhold them), and deal with "owie!" and "the sun is in my eyes!" and field requests for things we don't have.
It's a little stressful, enough to give one a mild headache.
Upon arrival at our destination there's always the initial excitement of seeing family members like Grandma and Grandpa and cousins! It's Mommy's job to get the kids inside and make sure they stay out of trouble while Daddy brings all our stuff in from the car.(This division of jobs has been agreed upon by both parties.) After a long car ride, the kids can be a little crabby, so this usually ends up being a time for quick baths, pajamas, and bedtime.
Kids in bed, Mom finally gets to relax. (Again, that's me.) After a long drive and dealing with crabby kids, I'm *really* excited to relax. Inevitably, the kids need to be put back in their beds multiple times, and Mom and Dad take turns doing this for a couple hours until the kids finally crash.
By this point, Mom really should go to sleep too, knowing that the kids will wake up early and want to go outside for a walk in the woods or something, but as I said, I'm *really* excited to relax. So I stay up, probably far too late, just to get in some prime chill time or play a game or watch a movie or spend time alone with my husband, and then Mommy and Daddy also crash.
The kids might wake up once in the middle of the night, and it's usually me who hears them, so it's me who gets up to take care of the problem. It's usually something simple like an empty water cup or a toy they can't find in the dark. I might lay by their bed to help them go back to sleep. The whole thing might take anywhere from ten to forty minutes (depending on how lost the toy was).
The next morning, the kids are first to wake. Since Mom is the first to hear them, and I don't want them disturbing other families who are trying to sleep, I get up with them. We go have breakfast, and get dressed, and maybe read scriptures or go for a walk. By this point, Daddy is probably awake, along with other family members, so the kids have things and people to entertain them, and Mom relaxes a little, maybe even takes a well-deserved nap.
But, throughout the day there are moments of panic. One kid is lost. Another broke a trophy. The lost kid is found stuck in an exercise bike (this really happened) or on top of the Ranger jeep (also really happened). The kid who broke the trophy is hungry, but lunch isn't for another half hour. They want to take a walk. They unplug the TV everyone is watching. They climb, they break, they're hungry, they're thirsty, they don't want to wait until you're done having a conversation or listening to something or doing something on your phone, because whatever they want is the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER.
I'm not sure whether I have O.C.D. tendencies, or I'm a perfectionist, or maybe I pride myself on being a good mom so I want to take care of everything, or it's just the, "I heard it first so I'll fix it" mindset, or maybe it's that I don't want to trouble anyone else to take care of children who belong to me. Whatever the case, I take care of the majority of issues that arise. Daddy helps too, don't get me wrong. But again, I'm usually in the vicinity of the problem, or the kids just come to me instead of him, or I take control of the situation from someone else (sometimes Daddy, even).
The evening routine repeats, as does the morning, and then again. That afternoon we're packing to go home. The packing routine repeats (most of the time with the help of family members watching the kids, thank goodness) and we load up to go home.
The drive home is much like the drive away, except usually worse. The kids are more tired and either really want to get home or really want to go back to the Cabin. Mom tries to keep them happy, and nearly loses her patience until Daddy suggests putting a movie on the iPad. Kids are consoled, Mommy relaxes a little.
Arrival home again means that Mom has kid duty and Dad unloads the car. Baths, pajamas, and bed once more. With the kids in their own rooms and beds, they fall asleep relatively quickly. Dad gets started on a project he's been meaning to do, Mom puts the dirty clothes from the trip into the washer, and then, THEN Mom finally gets her relaxing time at a decent hour, sitting on her own couch, in her own house, with no one else around.
The family vacation is over. Mom didn't get as much of a break as everyone else, but I got a little one. Because the truth is, it WAS nice to see extended family, and it WAS nice to get out of the heat, and it WAS nice to get out of the house for a while. The thing is... Mom didn't really get a chance to enjoy those things. She was too busy still being a mom, in a setting the kids weren't used to (which makes it more difficult, in case this post didn't make that clear).
When all is said and done, I do enjoy family vacations. But man... it's also good to be home.