with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Vacationing with kids is a daunting enough prospect with two parents on hand. Single parenthood pretty much rules out a vacation feeling like an actual vacation whatsoever. I am okay with this. I am a pragmatist, people, not a pessimist. I like to remind myself to keep my expectations low. Totally works for me. Last year, I pulled it off without completely losing my mind, and this year, I betcha I can do it again.
Consider your average continental U.S. beach vacation. Okay, so I am considering the average continental U.S. beach vacation, done dirty and dirt cheap. You can think about other things. La la la la la you can’t hear me.
It wasn’t always so purty or easy, even with two fairly calm, sturdy adults to drag the four hundred pounds of beach gear two miles to the beach, only to listen to the kids whining about how they like the motel pool better because the ocean is too “squishy.”
Now it’s downright haaaaaaard. Yes, I’m whining. Get over here and vacation with me and carry the cooler and the umbrella and the sunscreen and I will stop.
If you’re “lucky,” like ME, you can drive to the seashore, to keep costs, well, lower. Jet fuel and auto fuel are beginning to rival one another in price. Car or plane, there’s the added expense of that thing called a portable DVD player, if your car or plane is not equipped with Lots and Lots of Varied Entertainment.
Uh, mine’s sure not, unless you count Mommy playing Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” every twelve songs. Although I want to spend another $100 like I want to chew off my right thumb, I am considering buying a damn portable DVD player. Because the thought of purchasing three plane tickets on JetBlue makes me and my bank account roll over and play dead. Because now I am in the driver’s seat, and can no longer use my pepper spray from the front seat to calm the savages in back.
I’m just kidding. You didn’t really think I sprayed the children with pepper spray, did you? My goodness. No, no. Although…hmm.
I will simultaneously lose and gain 50 lbs. walking the boardwalk on our vacation, because I will always have at least one exhausted child on my back, as I lurch along like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, cramming soft-serve twisty cones into my mouth with one hand that is not cupping the aforementioned child’s buttocks to keep her from sliding off my shoulders into the tram car’s path.
No matter how much walking and child-hauling I do, the soft-serve and gelato and fudge intake will offset any achievements in physical fitness.
I will state for the record that I am fully prepared to let my children fall asleep to reruns of “That’s So Raven” EVERY SINGLE NIGHT WE ARE AT THE MOTEL. Because there will be no additional parent on hand to fetch endless cups of water and banish the scary glowy green man nightmares, and there is only so much soothing and calming a single parent can serve up during a week in a strange place with the offspring. I am not Mother Teresa, people. Even she would have thought twice about a week away with two kids and the Disney Channel on tap.
So why do it? Because they still talk about it. A year after my first successful vacay with the kids as a single mama, they still talk about it. And when they talk about it, they glow. It wasn’t Disneyland, but it was pretty magic. No one lost a leg on a poorly maintained roller coaster; no one got food poisoning; everybody won something at the duck game.
In the photos, everyone is smiling. Even me, most of the time.
I was exhausted, but it gave me a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt for a long, long time.
So bring on the soft-serve.
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