Yesterday LOD took the kids on a trip to see his extended family up in New England for 11 days.
We have it written into our settlement agreement that each of us is allowed to take the kids for a summer vacation of a certain number of consecutive days, and that we’re supposed to schedule these with each other by May 15, and there’s some mechanism for who trumps if we both want the same day.
(ZOMG the settlement-writing process is exhausting. It’s worse than planning a wedding, because at least if you pick the wrong tablecloths it’s only for one day. If you pick some innocuous detail for the settlement agreement that you don’t fully explore the ramifications of, you could be stuck with some weird game of Twister WITH YOUR KIDS until the youngest one turns 21.)
We’re lucky, though, because we’re both really into getting the kids out of the city as much as possible, so we each let the other one take the kids on trips whenever we can. This year we just called months, so I took them places in July and he took them places in August. Including this 11-day trip.
I don’t like that they’re going to be gone for 11 days. I’m going to miss them like crazy, and I’m going to get lonely, and even the ability to go out every single night for 11 days isn’t going to make up for that.
This is how I predict it’s going to go for me:
Day 1 (today): My mom’s still in town, so we’ll have a nice dinner and long talk and not have to censor what we say for little ears.
Day 2: My mom will have left, so I’ll crank up the Throwback Jamz cable TV music channel and eat chocolate pudding for dinner.
Day 3: Out with friends. Woo-hoo! I am totally the Gay Divorcee.
Day 4: Wake up, late. Go out and get coffee and a scone and sit in the park and read a book. Feel free and on top of the world (despite mountain of laundry I’m ignoring). Around noon start missing the kids. Do apartment stuff, and mountain of laundry. Wish it was college football season. Realize at 9 pm that I haven’t seen anyone else all day and that’s not good.
Day 5: Wake up, disoriented, because there’s no one playing video games or watching Penguins of Madagascar. Go to church and get all weepy during the songs because I miss the kids. Talk to everyone at coffee hour just for the interaction. Go home and take a nap and realize taking a nap is good. Watch DVR’d eps of Phineas & Ferb while I eat dinner alone.
Day 6: Get to work early. Work work work. Stay at work late. Stay stay stay. When I get home there will be no party at the top of the tree, and no one will like my hat.
Day 7: Get to work early. Meet friends and stay out late. Fun is good. I can do this!
Day 8: Drag in to work. Meet friend after work but go home early because I really can’t go out and party two school nights in a row anymore.
Day 9: Leave for work trip. Those aren’t pillows.
Day 10: Work in a strange city. No time to miss kids because I’m not at home anyway.
Day 11: Return from work trip. See kids. Finally. They will be more excited about seeing the cats than about seeing me, and they won’t understand why I’m crying.
Also, I think LOD is insane for taking them on a trip this long. I predict that by Day 5 he’ll be wishing he could have just one solitary 30-minute stretch in which he wasn’t being elbowed, listening to the plot of either a book or video game R’s seen or book or movie or video game R’s planning on writing or some kind of fart joke, reapplying sunscreen for the fifth time that day, or answering questions about spaceship aerodynamics while he’s using the restroom.
But here’s the thing: I think both LOD and I have great memories of long, lazy summer vacations with relatives, in which we just got to have fun and hang. I know both of us want to replicate that for our kids, so they don’t have the pressure of quick 2-day visits in which they don’t get to just be. So we each suck it up–either the loneliness or the unrelenting on-duty-ness–when we’re on one side or the other.
I actually find it easier this way than I did back when we were together and we were trying to do the Long Lazy Vacation thing as a group. One of us always had special memories of the place, and the other just never got what was so great about it. It was like taking the Proustian madeleine and having to justify the butter and sugar in it to someone on the MacDougall diet. And we were both exhausted at the same time, but neither could admit it without looking weak, and we were never able to really give each other a break. Now, at least, we each have a complaint that’s acknowledged as legitimate. And our kids get to share our special childhood places with only pleasure and no justification.
Still, 11 days is going to be long.