Vacation Fantasy vs. Vacation Reality

    Every year, our family takes vacation in a two week lump sum at the end of Summer. And every year, I build up a fantasy that it will be a combination of ultimate relaxation and effortless productivity. The end all, be all, of events.

    Behold vacation! Where everything I have ever wanted happens simultaneously. Outdoor adventure, travel, family fun, marital bonding, home improvement, self enhancement and world peace. By the time vacation arrives, I’ve mostly forgotten I am naught but a daydreaming dope with two small children.


  Vacation Fantasy: The family would frolic into the wilderness to enjoy the peaceful beauty of nature.
  Vacation Reality: We ran ourselves ragged wrangling a maniacal toddler while being blasted by the obnoxious, outrageously loud music of the jerks in the next campsite.

   Vacation Fantasy: My husband and I would spend eternity alone together, sharing our dreams and bodies.
   Vacation Reality: The children fell asleep in the car on the way to our cabin and we sat sweating on the front porch playing Scrabble over a beer while they slept in the running, air-conditioned car.

   Vacation Fantasy: We would all getaway to enjoy the rented luxury of a tastefully furnished cabin.
   Vacation Reality: The proprietors’ tasteful furnishings consisted of low-lying shelves adorned with baby-magnet breakables and cinnamon oil drenched pine cones, hidden like easter eggs I had to use my gag reflex to locate.

   Vacation Fantasy: Our easy going offspring would effortlessly adapt to foreign lodgings.
   Vacation Reality: We became the proud parents of an eighteen-month-old pinball, who hurled herself with increasing force at everything in her path the later it got and who wouldn’t sleep unless I went to bed with her so she could steamroll me all night.

   Vacation Fantasy: Back at home, fresh mulch would spread itself over the entire garden.
   Vacation Reality: I had eight yards of mushroom compost delivered to the driveway where it will likely occupy the needed parking space until Christmas.

   Vacation Fantasy: The backside of the house would get painted. (The front side was painted in the Spring...of last year.)
   Vacation Reality: It got hosed down.

   Vacation Fantasy: By merely blinking, brilliantly composed essays would amass in surplus.
   Vacation Reality: I exhausted myself to beat two writing deadlines, then left seventy-two tabs open on my computer for a week, in exchange for peeing in the woods.

   Vacation Fantasy: I would run on the beach, practice yoga alongside the river and meditate in the forest.
   Vacation Reality: I broke my record for most days in a row without a shower and exercised zero times.

   I must be an idiot, because I was sincerely surprised when the real vacation didn’t come close to my fantasy. At this point in mothering I should know my best chance at having a truly relaxing and productive experience is on random solo trips to the grocery store or dentist.

  But that won't stop me from fantasizing about a painless vacation. It's like opting for the epidural. With it, I am prepared to face the ring of campfire. 

A version of this story was featured on Erma Bomeck's Writers Workshop


Adrienn Hunt

06/11/2014 7:14pm

Ha! I really enjoyed this post. There are so many things I expect will be fun that turn out to be a nightmare that I regret doing almost immediately!


Carisa Miller

06/12/2014 1:00pm

Craft projects also come to mind. Thank you for stopping by, Adrienn!


Kathy Radigan

06/11/2014 7:56pm

I love this piece and I really love that I got to hear you read it at BlogU this weekend!!! Excellent! And so, so true!!


Carisa Miller

06/12/2014 1:02pm

Sweet Kathy, thank you! 



06/17/2014 8:42am

Ha! We just returned from what I carefully refer to as a family trip. It was fun, and I was glad to be off cleaning and cooking duty most of the time. But there's just no vacation from a 4-1/2 year old!