My husband called at noon on Wednesday and said, "Let's go to San Diego this weekend." It was his last weekend off for at least two months, he found super cheap tickets to Sea World ($20/each) on craigslist, and he bid on a hotel room ($40/night) for two nights on priceline. So, we jumped in our minivan (Oddessy - or Oddy for short) as soon as he got home from work on Thursday and we were on our way.
Before we even loaded the Oddy, I felt a real, almost tangible increase of love for my husband. The only explanation for it was my excitement that he would be spending three days with us and we would have his full attention.
My husband likes to create big memories and insists that the stress and extra work of planning a trip are totally worth it. However, when I am on vacation, I take my vacation pretty seriously. This means that I expect someone else to do all of the work. This is totally unrealistic, obviously, since I am a mom of four young children. But, really, I can't help it. I somehow tune out the constant requests from my children and believe that someone (namely, my husband) will pitch in to help and take over while I relax.
So, that increase in love was possibly due to my thinking (hoping?) that my husband wanted to give me a weekend to relax.
I know, I know. I was being totally unrealistic. My husband tells me OFTEN that I am totally unrealistic. I tell him that I am an optimist.
Needless to say this has caused problems during family vacations in the past. We don't vacation often though, so we haven't really worked out the kinks.
So, back to the constant requests. Because my husband is a husband, and also a doctor who works a lot, probably with plans to relax also, we were bound for conflict.
So, I got upset a few times when my husband didn't pick up the ball. He was quite helpful if I asked for help, but this was beside the point. I, unrealistically, just expected and hoped that he would take over. It's not so helpful when he desperately needs a vacation too. I should have remembered the advice of another doctor's wife: "have no expectations" in order to avoid disappointment. I didn't. But, I was able to communicate my expectations at one point, but this required some humility on my part, (hard to find sometimes), and additional energy (also usually unavailable).
I'm not sure if we will ever learn how to vacation together before our children are completely self-sufficient.
We quickly learned that the less time spent in the hotel room, the better. During the very few hours total that we were in the hotel room during the three days, the kids only opened the hotel room door when we told them not to about 367 times, messed up their queen size bed 6 times in order to have large whips made out of sheets to chase each other with around the hotel room, broke two pieces off of furniture in the hotel room, and wrestled and hurt each other only about 93 times.
But, while they were in the Oddy with seat belts, at Sea World, or playing at Mission Beach they were completely happy and well behaved. We won't mention the experiences we had in the various restaurants where we ate.
Initially, I thought that the tickets to Sea World were overpriced, but then I remembered going when I was little and it was so magical and wonderful. Above is the first exhibit that we literally ran to. I immediately felt like the entire trip was worth it.
It was freezing, rainy, and very windy, but the kids still played in the ocean. They will probably remember with more detail the hour they spent in the rain and wind with their dad, running from the waves, cold and soaking wet, screaming and laughing together, more than anything else during the trip.
I am also so glad that he is willing to drag me along, time and again, despite my behaving like a dead weight.
I do need to mention one place where we ate though. It is called Phil's BBQ. It was too amazing to describe. The food was so yummo, the atmosphere was great (especially for kids!), and the prices were really reasonable for the quality and amount of food. It was a breath of fresh air. It's definitely a new tradition for our family.