When I finish packing for this [expletive deleted] cruise, I will need a vacation.
That is what I found myself muttering as I brushed my hair back out of my eyes. In doing so, I wrote on my face with the permanent Sharpie marker that I’d been using to label Ziploc bags full of clothes in every size, for every possible sort of climate. Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo ain’t got nothin’ on me.
This Ziploc thing is me fighting my nature: I am a naturally disorganized person. I am definitely one of those people who sees my messiness as a sign of my creativity and latent genius. My lack of organization (or, as my mother has called it somewhat pejoratively, “slovenliness”), never bothered me back in my pre-child life. When I was looking for my black lace bra, I’d know it was probably on either the chair in my bedroom or under my dresser. Problem solved.
As the years passed, however, disorganization has become, sadly, unacceptable. Being the mother of four kids–especially if two of them are under two–means you really need to have your proverbial shit together. An example of this presented itself in my inbox just today. “I missed seeing you at Field Day yesterday,” a friend emailed me this morning. If I read between the lines correctly, that probably means that I was supposed to be at Field Day at the elementary school yesterday. Damn it. Hopefully my kid didn’t notice.
I’ve been busy getting ready for our family trip. I did not say “vacation.” Traveling with four children, your husband, and your parents (thank GOD for the husband/parents factor) is not particularly restful. Once you understand that, it’s a significant difference in how you view your trip. I have fully processed that my 1-year-old will not intuitively understand that when one is on a beach, one is meant to lie down, say nothing, and vegetate like a beached whale while listening to an iPod and sipping a drink with an umbrella in it. I will try to explain this point to her, but it will be in vain. The trip will be a lot of fun–I am actually really excited–but it will be a lot of work.
The work begins with the packing. There is really nothing quite like packing for four children, two of whom are in diapers: it is an exercise in anticipation, space conservation, and planning. And list-making.
I am not ordinarily a list-maker (see under aforementioned “disorganized”). But this time around I made the list two weeks ago. I listed how many diapers and wipes each kid would have to take. How many ounces of powdered formula. What medications I needed to get beforehand. How many new pairs of shorts each growing kid would need.
I lost the list.
With a few days to go, I find myself waking up at 3:35 in the morning, sitting straight up in bed and saying things like, “Socks! Bibs! Benadryl!” My husband tells me to go back to sleep. Not before I write these revelations down, of course….and of course, there is no pen or paper by my bedside.
It will all be okay. We will forget something, whether it is the toothbrush or the goggles (goggles!). We will live. Whoever coined the expression “getting there is half the fun” was in a van where everyone was smoking pot, not an early morning flight to Florida packed with toddlers. But we will get there and it will be fun.
And maybe before our flight leaves this weekend, I’ll even have packed some clothes for myself.
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