When I had kids, I decided in my heart that we would always travel together as a family. There was quite a bit of drama surrounding pregnancy with my son, with premature delivery followed by a week in NICU. I remember thinking that I never want to take these little people for granted. I would be a hands-on mom, always. Spoiler alert! I’m most definitely not a hands-on mom.
But I wanted my children to tag along with us on trips, despite potential hardships. Sure, short getaways with your spouse are not only OK, they are necessary. But when it comes to big vacations, we would be with our kids, period. It’s not that I was judgmental of couples who left their little people behind so they could jet around the world, I just never thought it would be us.
Well. As I found out recently, it’s best to never make definitive statements. Life is complicated and when you involve extended family, it can be off-the-charts complicated. Take our upcoming trip next year. Complicated doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had to work with limited supply of miles, savings and my husband’s meager vacation time. The most difficult part was making sure we won’t be separated from our kids for too long.
My sister-in-law had VERY strong ideas on the whole thing and she wouldn’t budge, not even a little bit. After all, this is the trip my in-laws wanted for decades. Everything had to be perfect. She is obsessed with “perfect” but that’s a post for another time (or not). Finally, after some exhausting back and forth, I decided to back out. I told her we would simply go to Tahiti as a family, something I wanted to do for a long time. That way, my in-laws were free to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Plus, like I said, I really don’t like the idea of being separated from my kids.
Everything was settled, or so I thought. My mother-in-law has reached out to me the following day and said that their trip is off since the kids are not coming. Their greatest joy is having them along during vacations. I realize not all in-laws are that way, and that I’m very fortunate in this respect. Apparently, my sister-in-law got very depressed about the whole thing. She is not married and doesn’t have her own children. So she sort of adopted mine. We are the definition of a dysfunctional family, but we do really love each other. I think of my SIL as my own sister at this point. And it breaks my heart to see her sad.
My husband and I discussed a few possible scenarios. Maybe we would go with kids to Tahiti and then he would fly home, with me continuing on to New Zealand to meet in-laws. He didn’t like the idea, but what can you do? However, my sister-in-law and I butt heads at home on a regular basis. Would it be wise to be stuck together without having my husband there as a rants’ recipient? I talked to my mother-in-law and she said that one of us probably wouldn’t come back to US alive. Fair enough.
Additionally, I didn’t like the idea of being separated from my husband for two weeks. It started to look like “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” type deal. So, after some back and forth, my husband and I decided to just let in-laws take the kids with them for the entire trip and we would meet them in Melbourne, Australia. That way, we would be separated from them for nine days at a time, which surely beats three weeks.
It’s still a difficult scenario for me to come to terms with, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. I know my kids will be fine with the in-laws. They have been on trips with them countless times and didn’t seem to miss us that much. We are a very close family, and I trust my in-laws completely.
The truth is, I’m more worried about how I will survive the separation. As a stay-at-home mom, I’m used to having my kids around. Yes, they drive me crazy half the time, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do have other interests, of course, like writing and travel, but my kids are my life. And I don’t care if someone thinks it sounds uncool or lame.
My daughter is my mini-me in so many ways. The other day, her teacher told her that she is a natural-born writer. I almost cried when I heard it because I distinctly remember my teacher telling me the exact same thing when I was in elementary school. I would absolutely love to read my daughter’s stories about Tahiti, but I guess those will have to wait.
Of course, my in-laws are planning to stop in Fiji for few days, after leaving Australia. So, I will get to vicariously visit that place through my daughter’s eyes and maybe we can plan a “girls” trip to Tahiti at some point in the future. She is a natural-born traveler, something else she has inherited from me. I guess what matters most is that the kids are happy, and I know that they will be. But will I?
Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.