I have not written for a while because I have been on vacation. For the first time in my career, I took a 2 week vacation. And it was GREAT! I live far away from most of my family, so this was one of those vacations where you go and visit them.
I was prepared to drive, but my mother offered to buy airplane tickets for me and the kids. Taking 4 kids between 17 and 9 on an airplane (with a connection) with only one adult sounds like it could be a nightmare, but it wasn't. The kids were great!!
We flew up on a Thursday. K and AJ were leaving the next day and were going to visit his family in a neighboring state for a few day before meeting up with me and the kids. We would be in town together for five days before K and AJ started home with me and kids following two days later. So, basically on a nearly two week vacation, I would have the kids by myself 2/3 of the time. And even when K and I were in town together, the kids stayed with me and at my mothers house.
K, meanwhile, drove to AJ's parent's house together without kids. They hung around there taking romantic lighthouse and wine tasting tours. It must have been nice for them to have that time together. Especially since their relationship has been some what strained.
Now if any of this sounds like I am complaining, I'm not. I have taken the kids on similar trips for the past few years on my own. It's not nearly as difficult as you might think it is. Yes, there is the normal sibling squabbling, but that's manageable for me. In fact, I was looking forward to this trip for weeks before we left. I knew we would have a great time. And we did!!
There were 2 times when I made an off hand comment about how nice it was that K was having this alone time without the kids. Once to her sister when I was hanging out at her house. And another time to AJ when we were all at JCPenny getting family portraits done (which is a blog post in itself). I said in a semi-joking manner as if I was jealous. These got back to K and she ASSUMED I was upset about being "stuck" with the kids while she got to be alone with AJ. She in turn got angry and defensive because she thought I was upset, which I wasn't.
In the middle of a family lunch she started to go off on me. It took me completely by surprise. She stopped before getting out of hand. We talked about it privately and I told her she had it all wrong. I was having a great trip and me and the kids were having a great time.
Now the question, why did she assume I was upset? Because if our places were reversed, she would be. If T and I were on vacation and she was with the kids all the time, there would be a heavy price to pay. If T and I stayed alone in a hotel and K had to sleep on an air mattress on the floor of her mother's house with the kids, it would eat at her soul. If T and I were wine tasting and she was at Chuck E. Cheese, she would spend every minute seething about it, as if she were being abused in some way. "How nice that you get to (insert wonderful thing here)..." she would say with her special brand of sarcasm.
For this trip, I did exactly nothing for myself. Everything revolved around what the kids wanted to do. What we did, where we slept, what we ate. Everything. I had wanted to visit an old college buddy, but that didn't happen. There was no time for me to do it. But where K would have been resentful, I was delighted. Every time one of the kids said, "Thanks Dad for taking us (insert wonderful thing here)" I was happy. I was building memories with my kids that they would not forget. Years from now they will they will talk about the time dad took us to (insert wonderful place here). That is important to me.
That's the difference between me and her.
The only touch of sadness I had during the trip, was this constant nagging that I wanted T to be there with me. I wanted him to be part of those memories too. Not just in my memory or his, but in my kids. I want them to stop thinking of him as Mr. T and just T. I wanted him to play in the surf with my daughter. I wanted to hear my youngest son yell, "T!! T!! WATCH ME DO A BACK FLIP!!"
I wanted him to flop on my mother couch after the kids were all in bed. Exhausted, but the kind of exhausted feeling that comes from the superest, most funnest day ever. Where all we had the energy to do was look at each other and smile.
Maybe next year.
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