On why family "vacation" is a misnomer

Friends, I can tell you with complete and utter truthfulness that family vacations with young children are not what the word vacation suggests. I think family work-trips is infinitely more accurate; possibly, on good days/during good hours, family workcation would not be a lie. The kids loved Chicago and ate up every experience. They devoured Cuban food for lunch, went wild for the bean (Cloud Gate), exhausted themselves in the Millennium Park waterplay area, schlepped up and down El stairs with us, loved the trains, met lots of people, thought the hotel was the cat's meow, cottoned to revolving doors. Yet, there was too much in the way of whining, self-absorption and all sort of misbehavior that comes along with shaken sleep schedules (they woke up at 4:20 every morning, and no I don't care that that's 5:20 eastern time because we were in the g-damn midwest), exact foods not being at beck and call like at home, and so forth. So while I'll never stop travelling with the kids, because I am a true and firm believer in exposing them to as much of the world as I can, it doesn't mean it's always much fun (for me and T).

Halfway to O'Hare this morning, our hotel called to let us know the kids' carry-on bag (yes that one, the one with all the toys, books and lovies) was standing at attention by the front desk. Fantastic. What an item to forget. Better than all our clothes, but still.

Could we turn around? Hell no- have you been on I90 during rush hour? Should they ship it to us? Ok. I don't even want to see the FedEx bill for this. Not at all.

Meanwhile, the boys were sounding to the nines. All kinds of nonsense noise, repeating inane commentary, too much kissing of Mommy (no, it bypassed sweet two days ago), baby talk. I thought my head was going to blow off. T took the three-seat row with the kids as I'd done the deed on the way out, so I napped and read to the best of my ability until Charlotte, at which point any reserve I'd accumulated was banished again. We made it fine to Wilmington, are now in Wrightsville Beach, have already boogie-boarded and shell-collected, and my brother-in-law poured me a glass of chilled white at 4:59p, bless his soul.

So peeps, all those pictures of smiling families, happily together on trips near and far...they are real, but they're only half of the story. They're the parts we want to remember, the parts we work for, the parts we sometimes have to fake. I say this not to whine, though I am inordinately grateful that at present I'm upstairs and they're downstairs, but to be honest about how hard this shit all is sometimes. A lot of times. We, all of us, have romantic ideals about what family is and will be. It's not always such and it's worth being candid about that I think.

Cheers to everyone forging through their own such "vacation."