I've been thinking about writing a book.

The thought has crossed my mind and people have asked; so this is something I'm working on. This is a very rough draft, but just a concept. Might as well let y'all in and see whatcha think. My aunt would refer to her kids and say "the horns hold the halos up". I've always found that funny and true. As I've entered this season of parenthood, I also think it goes for the parents. There are many things that make us saints and sinners. Forgive how snarky this may sound right now... first drafts can be that way...

The Horns Hold the Halos Up

Chapter 1 – Vacation

I watch my kids play in the sand. They’ve successfully built a tower at the playground with two small Poles and a little Scot. As we are on an international trip, no one speaks the same language while simultaneously all speaking the same language. Though my children have had three baths today, there they are in the sand again. I laugh at the thought of this, feeling carefree. It is very Norman Rockwell of me to watch this unfold and feel this way. Then they come asking me to refill their water bottle – the makeshift tool for creating packed sand. That requires me to get up. I envision the getting up which means putting down my book, walking in the condo, dropping sand in said condo, risking waking up the baby, looking at the dishes to be done, permitting the kids to play longer, thinking of the fourth bath that will ensue, the potential meltdown and fight that will probably come, the drink of water that will be needed to quench the thirst that comes when it’s bedtime and, suddenly, I’m angry. It is very Kathy Bates in Misery of me to feel this way.

A friend once told me that there are three types of vacations: (a) vacations with/to see family; (b) vacations with children; and (c) vacations without children. All of them are, indeed, “get-away”s. They are also “go-to”s. In (a), you realize that you may get away from your town and your normal routine and you go to see many other dysfunctional people while sleeping in an either too-hot or too-cold house on a too-hard or too-soft bed while getting too little sleep. In (b), you get away from everyone else but your spouse and children and, again, leave your normal routines and you go to a place where you’re anonymous. This is nice until you realize that you don’t know any babysitters in this newfoundland and being with your kids all day, every day, feels strangely like every other day of your life… all while getting too little sleep. In (c), which happens to be my favorite kind of vacation, you, again, get away from your normal routine, normal responsibilities, and (ab)normal people and you go to a utopia where you remember what it’s like to read a book uninterrupted, take a sh*t undisturbed, and eat a meal without standing/bouncing/rocking through half of it. Fooling yourself, you think you’ll be able to sleep in without tots around and you end up, wait for it… getting too little sleep. You quickly go to a default M.O. of being guilt-ridden as you think of the old ladies at church who remind you that your days with your children will go way too fast and you’ll miss them (the days and the children). You cry because you actually don’t want them to go fast. In fact, you want them to go more slowly but can’t figure out for the life of you how to recalibrate your pace. You just want to know how to concurrently enjoy the little people you adore who are a pain in the @$$ at times.

This is the cycle and this is the tension. Gratitude. Chaos. Frustration. Guilt. Grace. Gratitude… and so on. If you are a hamster on this wheel or a rat in this race, you are not alone. I am here drinking out the same cloudy water sippy-thingy in the corner and standing on the same nasty wood chips that you are. It’s okay to know that the old lady is right and what she says is true but also wanting to tell her to go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks because she has Gramnesia.

Welcome to vacation.