Reflections on the 2012 Family Vacation
With the birth of our second child in May and without the money I used to earn, my husband and I decided that this year’s summer vacation wouldn’t involve an airplane or tropical island. We’d take the RV to a campground about an hour from our home, Strawberry Park, and hang out for a week. This was our fourth camping trip of the year, but the other trips were typical weekend trips- nothing extended like this. In the weeks leading up to the trip, a lot of friends I saw made comments about me “being a real trooper,” “toughing it out,” and “roughing it,” while camping with the new baby.
While we were on vacation, I got to thinking about those comments while I was sitting in the hot tub. “These are the sacrifices I make, being a stay-at-home mom,” I thought to myself. I considered a trip to the sauna, deciding instead to refresh myself with a dip in one of the campground’s four pools before returning to the hot tub to pity myself some more.
“No fancy restaurants this trip,” I mused. Gosh those are fun with a toddler and an infant. Instead, I ate things like filet mignon my husband cooked to perfection and worked around the infant’s feeding schedule. My picky toddler ate all her usual favorites, right when she was hungry, even if husband and I weren’t ready to eat yet. We didn’t get to experience that hunger/exhaustion-induced toddler tantrum that waiting for a table brings. And how boring for us- we knew she would like her food.
I watched the bubbles float lazily around the perfect-temperature water in the hot tub and asked myself, “Where’s the intrigue?” All of the vacation mysteries were missing this trip, not just whether or not the Princess would eat her food. Questions like “Will there be a place to change the baby?,” “Where will I wash out the baby’s bottles?,” “Will the beds be comfortable?,” “Who last slept in this bed and what did they do here?,” are already answered: “Yes, in the camper” “Yes, in my own sink,” “Yes, because you slept on it last week,” “It was me, and not much.” Blah.
Oh, and thinking of the sleeping situation, it occurred to me that I didn’t even get to share a hotel room with the kids. There would be no trying to quietly watch TV without the kids waking up. No finding out what mediocre snacks the hotel vending machine might have. Instead, my husband and I sat outside by a lovely fire and had wine and made s’mores or munched on a platter of cheese, smoked meat and crackers. Sure, the kids were just a few feet away and we could watch and listen to them on our monitor, but it’s not the same thing as being in the room. Even when we went to bed we’d be in our own room in the back of the RV. “Guess tonight’s going to be another evening of guilt-free, grown-up conversation,” I surmised as I got up to take another dip in the adults-only pool.
Refreshed but still forlorn, I slid back into the hot tub and thought about the day’s activities so far. Minute by minute, there had been activities for my 2.5 year old. Arts and Crafts, Story Time, a jumping pillow, pony rides and then in the down time there were 3 kids pools including a wading pool. Princess was exhausted. I would be disappointed again tonight, “She’s going to ask me to put her to bed early again tonight. I just know it,” I thought. No family movie. Princess and Buster both were getting worn out by all this fresh air. What parent wants their kid to go to bed early?
Now wallowing in self-despair, I came to a conclusion, “as long as I’m not working, this is what my vacations will be like.” Ughhh. What’s a girl to do? I’m trying to do the right thing for my kids, so this is the way things will have to be.
Growing tired of the hot tub, I headed back to the campsite. There, the children were still napping but my husband was waiting for me with a fresh Manhattan.If you’d like to be as miserable as us on your next vacation or next weekend, be sure to check out Strawberry Park for a great campground with lots to do in lots of clean facilities. Oh, and if you just don’t want to cook, they do have their own grill with burgers, fries, etc. Even better, they do deliver to your site! If you’re new to camping, you can try renting a camper. Plus, they’re not the only campground around that defies “roughin’ it.” Check out the Connecticut Campground Owners Association website for listings.