Can I tell you a bit of a parent shame I have? I enjoy being away from the kids. And I really like that Ty and I don’t have any kids together because it kind of means that we get a parent break regularly. These breaks keep me sane. Sure, we miss the kids a little. But it’s a nice missing. It makes the whole “should I have another kid” question super complicated and tough to answer, but that’s a story for some other time.
The thing is, because our children have two families, it tends to be a little too easy for Ty and I to indulge in getting away as a couple – or just staying in as a couple for that matter. We do take the kids with us on a little holiday from time to time – but it’s one of those things that only comes about if timing works out properly. Obviously we don’t like to take away from the kids’ time with their other parents because that wouldn’t be fair, but let’s face it: when it comes to getting away, the biggest reason for leaving the kids behind is that it’s a LOT easier to get the most out of a vacation without them. Setting aside the fact that taking the kids with tends to more than double the costs of getting away, the biggest difficulty when it comes to family travel is that sometimes the kids are assholes. And yeah, I know we’re not supposed to admit that kids are assholes, but they are. And often, after you’ve spent a whole crapton of money that you can’t afford on a family trip that you only sort-of want to take, at least one of them will turn into a sulkmonster (or similar) and kind of spoil the break for everyone. This is a thousand times worse than when they are just being jerks at home. For me, at least.
To the credit of my kids though, they were kind of awesome this past weekend. Ty and I absolutely love road tripping and we gel together really well while doing it (except for that one time when we were driving back from Cape Town and he got super offended with me because I said “no” when he asked me if I wanted a box of apples…but that’s a wtf story for some nevertime) and we decided we’d like to share our exploring ways with the kids a little and show them what it is that we do sometimes when they’re off hanging with their friends and other family members. We both feel it’s important for them to spread their wings after they finish school and would like them to travel for a couple of years before settling down. I can’t imagine that they’ll cultivate too much wanderlust if they never wander around at all. Someone has to teach them to wander!
So we took them with.
And you know what? Having them around was really nice for a change. Thomas fell even more in love with taking photos and he was a delight all weekend. It was so nice to watch him being creative and loving it and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished outcome of all his work. Bridgette was just her sweet self and she sang pretty much all weekend which strikes me as a good sign of happiness. Noah chattered away so much that our brains all began to scramble a bit, but he’s cute and it was fun listening to some of his madness. The squabbles between the kids were kept to a minimum.
I think the biggest relief of it is this though: I really try to hammer home the concept of the importance of how we treat each other and how important good vibes are, and it seems to finally be getting through. I need them to understand that if you treat someone like shit you can’t expect goodness from them – no matter how much they are “technically” obligated to you. Good vibes beget good vibes. If it’s not fun for everyone then it’s not fun for anyone. I know there’s an altruistic attitude of I’ll do anything for my kids that we are supposed to adopt, but I won’t do anything for them. If I max out my credit card on a family holiday that goes badly because of poor attitudes and arrogant entitlement, I can guarantee you it won’t be happening again. I will spend my money and effort where it is appreciated. It is as simple as that. And this concept pretty much applies everywhere. Being The Mom comes with a thousand obligations that are non-negotiable. I am not about to add a bunch of non-obligations to my obligations list just because. I’m not a martyr.
So that’s where the goodness comes in. This little holiday went a lot better than they have in the past, and because it went so well I feel kind of inspired to make it all happen again. I don’t really expect you to understand. Maybe you’re sitting there shaking your head and thinking that it’s silly that I should even suggest that family holidays might be a bit challenging. But adventures are a big deal to us as a couple, and so it’s a big deal that this one went well. And it’s an even bigger deal that organizing another one feels way less daunting than it has in the past.
For me that’s progress. This blended family thing is getting easier.