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Take My Vacation. Please.

What began as a long week visiting family
for Thanksgiving has turned into almost two weeks of house-hunting
and hanging around Texas. And though we’ve got a suite hotel
room with a mini-kitchen and more space than most, there’s
beginning to be a, well, smell.

One of the best parts of going on vacation is being able to suspend
all the drudgery of your everyday life; bill-paying, housekeeping,
laundry are all put on hold for a few glorious days. Sure,
there’s a mound of dirty clothes and a stack of unpaid bills
waiting for you when you return, but for that brief bit of time
beforehand there’s no such thing as chores.

Now, though, we’ve pushed our return
date back by several days to continue our house hunting, and
reality is creeping back in. We’ve definitely run out of
laundry, having brought only enough undies to get us through the
original timeline. And I’ve had to scramble to get a few
end-of-month bills paid. Our hotel room, though, is the worst;
meant to be a temporary stop, we never really put things away and
have lived half out of suitcases, half draped on the floor. Our
piles are getting perilously tall.

My stomach’s not thanking me either: we usually jump on our
trip to Texas as our chance to get our fill of Tex-Mex and
barbeque. After a steady diet of this augmented by cheap (read:
fast food) meals, I find myself longing for a good tossed salad.
Not what Texas is known for.

Nowhere do I see a need for an end to this vacation more, though,
than in Maddie. A few days out of her comfort zone are fine;
she’s quite the adventurer and adapts well to new situations.
We haven’t been great, though, about sticking to her routine
and it definitely shows. I mean, we’ve held fast to her nap
(though we’ve pushed the time a bit when needed), but
that’s about it. Gone is her guaranteed outdoor playtime most
days as we go see house after house after house every morning. And
my normally easygoing child is rebelling.

Just yesterday she had Chernobyl-sized meltdowns TWICE in one
morning, flatly refusing to get back in the car. We’d get out
to see a house and just as she’d find all the toys or the
cool swingset we’d try to get her back in the car again. Gone
is her daily run-wild-and-scream time, and boy does she miss it.
I’ve managed to wedge a few mornings of jumping on
Nana’s trampoline or playing at the playground near
Grandpa’s house, and Maddie’s relief is palpable as she
runs screaming and spinning with sheer happiness.

Cora is resigning herself to the car seat, though when we return to
the hotel room and set her free on her playmat she greets the
hanging toys like long-lost brothers. I myself can’t wait to
get back to our home, with our refrigerator full of healthy snacks
and a bedroom I don’t find myself trapped in once the girls
go to sleep. And Maddie, for all her struggles and meltdowns, is
still by and large a kid who finds contentment in any situation.

Last night, for example, I broke down and threw a load of laundry
in at the hotel, including Maddie’s shirt she’d spilled
strawberries all over. Once topless, my daughter decided to put her
ballerina costume on. And once we’d danced around the hotel
room a bit, Maddie offered to come with me to change over the
laundry so she and Big Elmo could trick or treat with the machines.
Maddie and Big Elmo padded obediently after me down the hallway,
Maddie dressed in her pants, ballerina costume, and socks. As we
waited for a machine to open up we ended up sitting on the floor
playing with my change. In an effort to not go out of my mind with
boredom, I suggested we count the number of coins in my hand, which
we did over and over again. Right before I began banging my head
against the linoleum, Maddie turned to me with a big warm smile and
said, “Hi, Mommy. Isn’t this fun? I’m having a
really good time.”

And suddenly, looking at my baby girl with her hair all in her
eyes, her pink butterfly wings drooping between her shoulder
blades, and her Elmo clutched tightly under her arm, I was too.


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