Remind me again why we brought these kids?

by renegademama


Remind me again why we brought these kids on “vacation?”

Because we had no choice, due to the startling lack of cheap, temporary kid-boarding houses.

No, that’s definitely not it. Rather shocked at the implication, frankly. (Although, now that I think about it, that’s not a wholly bad idea. It’d be like a pet boarding hotel…only for kids. Omg that is so bad. I’m never saying that out loud again.)

Because you want to look good to other mothers, hoping it’ll outshine your obvious deficiencies: “See what a good mom I am? I take my kids places! I yell a lot, and have never once completed a baby memory book, and occasionally my children eat frozen food for 3 days in a row, but I take them places!”

Nope. Not really it either. I gave up caring what people think about me quite a while ago, right about the time I realized I’ll never, ever, no matter how hard I try, figure out how to stop saying “fuck” at inappropriate moments. Or hold my tongue when I really need to.

Alright. How about this one…so when your kid grows up an out-of-touch derelict, you have photographic evidence that you at least TRIED.

Okay, that’s getting closer, but it’s still not quite right.

Oh, I got it!…Because you continue to rely on the vision you’ve crafted in your head [of some idyllic family vacation], rather than accepting REALITY, which is, of course, that vacations with your children are comprised of heinous inconveniences and sheer unpleasantness, dotted with random, fleeting moments of the sublime.

Yes. Right. Pretty much that.

 And the derelict thing.

For those of you who may be new here, the italics represent the voice in my head (well, one of them) – don’t be alarmed, though. It’s a friendly voice. Little crazy, but friendly. Means no harm.

AND, seriously.

Why the fuck do we bring kids on vacation?

They are just so bad.

Let me paint a picture for you: we’re in old-growth redwood forest, alongside the Smith River, one of the most stunning, pristine rivers in California, it’s sunny, 70 degrees of perfection, there’s space everywhere and about a million things to do, all of which should, theoretically, entertain the hell out of kids, (sticks and rocks and bugs and trees and crafts I brought and books and campfires and food)…and what are my kids doing? Arguing about who gets to play in the tent. Arguing about who got to hang in the hammock 1 minute longer than the other. Arguing about whose fairy house is better. Arguing about WHO OWNS THIS PARTICULAR STICK.

There is wild open space in all directions, and my kids are within 3 inches of each other at all times, even though they can hardly stand one another.

And I want to chuck them into the river.

Do they know how much work this is? How much money it costs? How much effort is being exerted to create this little nature soiree? How drastically they’re messing with the mama vision I have floating in my delusional head?

I bring watercolors. Rocket FLIPS his lid because the wind catches his painting and it falls on the ground. Henceforth uninterested. Ava paints, but is so sure her painting is horrible she sulks and whines in the depths of self-pity for a good 15 minutes.

If they’re in the river, they want to be in the campsite.

If they’re at the campsite, they want to be in the river.

And so it goes.

Are my kids just bad?


Or maybe, and this is probably more likely, I’m holding so tightly to what I think vacation should be that I am unable to accept reality. Accept what is. I fight it and I get pissed. I project my unrealistic vision of Waldorf nature moments and family memory-creation so severely onto the situation that I miss the beauty that’s right in front of me: my kids being kids. My family being my family. Whatever that means – with all its imperfections.

Because when I really look at it, what bothers me the most, what really pisses me off, is that they’re messin’ with my idea of “camping with family.” They’re fucking with my plan. I hate that.

Or, they’re just shitheads.

Either way, I know what I’ll remember next year are the moments of sublime. The mind is sick like that. It only remembers the good shit, so you fall right back in the same trap, thinking for sure this time, it’s gonna be different. It’s gonna be amazing. We’re all gonna sit and meditate and paint together in deep contemplative quiet of the universe and all that is holy and good. And we’ll sing songs and play in the dirt and nobody’s going to bicker or complain because how could they? Look where we are! We’re in the damn redwoods.

No, we’re not. We’re in a bigger version of our living room.

And I. Where am I? In my head, of course, wishing I could get these kids to get in my head too, so at least they could cooperate with my nice peaceful vision.

I know they’d like it in here if they’d just give it a try.


Our campsite. See all that space?

walking down to the river from our campsite. okay. I miss it already.

One of the moments I won't remember in a year or so. As I recall, he was weeping that I wouldn't let him get fully submerged in the river. Feet only. Note Ava's look of total disdain.

He got over it.

Especially once he discovered the river's infinite rock-throwing potential.

Okay FINE. I adore her.

Georgia and her rock, which she called "owl", because she calls everything "owl", because she's perfect. Oh right. And there's Mac, too. 🙂

Stout Grove - redwoods that were on the planet before Jesus arrived. Literally. Yeah, my kids weren't very impressed by that particular factoid either. (I just said "factoid.")

One of the trees had a burl on it that Rocket said looked like a monster. We asked him to show us his "monster face." This is what we got.

On a hike along Mill Creek.

On the Mill Creek hike there was a rope swing out over the creek. I offered Mac $100 to swing on it and launch into the river. He denied me. As usual, nobody appreciates my plans.

I did not pose them. This is how they sat spontaneously on the tree. What a trip, right? They're already THE SAME. Ahhhhh. That's actually really sweet.

Rocket & Ava dancing. On the trail. Suddenly, for no reason. That was sweet too.

One must make do when camping. Oh goodness. I want to go back! That was a great trip! Wait. STOP IT BRAIN! STOP IT! uncool! I'm already forgetting the PAIN!

  • Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust

    Exactly. This is how I felt last year when we spent way too much money on a condo in San Diego and my daughter complained the whole time. So annoying! This year: free stay-cation at my (empty) parents house and an adults-only trip to Vegas.

  • Ashley

    Hi I am your newest follower (you send me a comment on bloggymoms)!
    This post made me laugh!! I know I shouldn’t because I have been in situations like that where you do something nice and costly for the kids and then they don’t appreciate it. But the tone of your post, and your personality towards things really made it fun to read lol

  • Amelia

    Witty blog…thank you for the introduction on bloggy moms. I followed you on networked blogs – thanks for the link!

  • i still don't camp

    Parents of only children. THOSE are the people that vacation. Because they can invite a friend for the young chap and everyone is happy. And it’s still affordable, even with an extra body.

    We took a Disneyland trip 3 years ago that cured me of ALL family “vacations”. I can sit at home for free to listen to my kids bitch.

    BTW, I find it quite ironic that Mac lost his mountain man look before the camping trip. Y’all are such rule-breakers.

  • Lesley

    Okay yes please, more of this!
    Pretty sure our minds are made up of noisy, digging, scratching little squirrels out to get us. Driving us to seak the sublime and then telling us always, always that the sublime is just out of reach.

    Love You!

  • 1 Funky Woman

    I too call my kids shit heads and don’t even try to stop my fucking use of the word Fuck!

    We had a love hate relationship with our trip to Disneyland last summer. Many times I wanted to pummel the person that says, “It’s the happiest place on earth”. Let me at em! Because we weren’t always happy, oh far from it!

    Crazy how you take a trip and everyone wants to kill everyone and so many tears are shed and you hear your kids say it was the best trip ever!


  • Shan

    Oh man, that was beautiful.

  • Janine

    Love the pics! Now I want to plan a trip there 🙂 I don’t think your message sunk in!

  • Tammy

    Where is the child boarding house?!?!?! Great Idea! Who says it should not be uttered?!? Love it!

    And now I am revising my picture of camping with my singleton daughter….. She’s one and I’m a single parent. Putting up a tent. cooking with her holding my leg or worse, running away. No walls. or place to put up the baby gate… It’s going to be hell.

    But we’ll laugh and cry and have some great pictures, won’t we?

    THanks for the prep!

  • tiffany

    I love your words Janelle! I wish so badly that I could abandon my “ideas” about the way things should be just long enough to enjoy the way things are while they still are. Then perhaps, I could enjoy some of my life WHILE I’m living it. Silly brain!

    These pictures make me miss you guys. Tell the family that I love you all and that the biscuit misses ’em too.

  • luella

    I love that picture of Ava looking at Rocket. One of the things that I love about reading your blog is this:
    I myself am the mother of only one, a little sweetie August baby (who also loves Owls). My best friend, since high school, we lived together for 3 years recently, is the mama of a sassy, smart, sarcastic 9 year old girl, and her cousin is a high spirited, wickedly energetic 6 year old boy. Everything you write resonates with one of these amazing children.
    Also I appreciate other people’s inappropriate cursing. it makes me own seem much more excusable.

  • eringirl

    In 15 years you will cherish the beautiful moments and laugh at the shitty ones. And, if your kids are half as awesome as I am (obviously), they will be very grateful when they are adults that you took the time to do special things with them.

    But you’ve definitely made me reconsider when we will be taking OUR first family vacation.

  • dani

    Shit girl…You summed it up perfectly!

    SO TRUE!

    We are going to the lake this summer and I know it’s going to be all kinds of terrible wonderful.

  • mcdonnellism

    I just caught up on everything. Well, lots of things and I need to comment some more because I know you love my comments. But first, this post.

    Oh my god, the pictures nearly broke my heart. I miss Northern California SO MUCH. Just beautiful.
    And two, holy shit, how the hell did you actually just make me want to take my family camping?! I hate camping! But the pictures, and the spontaneous dancing and the baby in the rubbermaid bin…now I want to do a family vacation with our three, too.

    Because you & me? Same crazy, sister.

  • Karen Pike

    Thanks for the reality reminder check. Loved it. Makes me feel normal. And that I am doing ok as a parent. And will try again, and get some cooperation for my 4 kids ages 2,6, 11 and 12. Will try to ignore the screaming tantrums, and hitting and scratching and biting pretending to be wild animals. The constant demands and reports of behavior about their siblings. Will anyone ever be able to just have a chilled happy fun time, without the dramas and getting Mum, so stressed and overwhelmed I end up yelling enough, stop the yelling. I want to get a break and get away on holiday so back. To get away from the laundry, the cooking, the house, and show the kids the world and do fun things with them all together. But with the age gaps, seems like Daddy needs to do some things just with the boys, and Mummy needs to do some girlie things for their age that is safe and possible. The kids have no boundaries, they just want to have fun and it gets noisy here. And I find myself about to explode, so much want something to be easy and go well and find some quiet time, and just breathe. They are growing up fast. And I have to create more fun and do more with them. Instead of being tired out. And giving up. If my husband is away or tired from work and not into it, I will just have to take the kids out myself or 2 at a time perhaps and give them some more good times. Mummy can attitude. Suck it up little lady. The Happy Train has just arrived. I want all the kids on it for a smooth ride to school holiday awesomeness. Let’s get off our butts and stop complaining fam. Lot of world out there to discover and appreciate. I want to show you some beautiful animals, scenery and cultures, good food, trying freaky food, taking risks, outside the comfort zone, too protected and restricted with safety rules on alert here in KL. Have to relax and enjoy the zone. Get in the zone. More coffee. What a delight and joy my wonderful children are, I don’t deserve them. And feel guilty every time I get stressed and end up yelling after 20 times no luck for cooperation or peace or getting out on time. It takes so much energy. I just assumed it would be a welcome break to be taken out. But they love being at home doing their own thing too. We have had some awesome holidays. And I shouldn’t complain. To get them washed, occupied, entertained, fed, happy, and to sleep. That is a huge job for me, and I am getting lazy at it, not better at it, the routines slip. And I stay up a little later with them on a weekend and enjoy a fam fun movie with popcorn. When it is raining outside. We play instruments and music. We do stuff. We make a mess. I have to clean it up, but now teaching and roping the kids into helping with that. So it is not so much to keep up with. Progress. Still need a lot of parenting tips. And boy do I have that inner critic, which I have to retrain to stop the drama and ignore the bad and praise the good. They are only kids. This is their childhood. And I am learning from them. I would rather a 5 star plunge pool villa in Phuket, Bali, Maldives, anywhere in Asia or the Pacific any day than go camping. But love the great outdoors, and being a New Zealander, that is what I had and appreciate it. Missing the beach. Missing a breeze on my face, and fresh air and fresh water, and food that tastes real. Choice we make. Plans we make. Good intentions. Thank you for some inspiration and a good chuckle. I am no way perfect, and you show me that I don’t have to be. The kids will be ok. And a welcome timeout and Mummy trip might do me good instead. But always think about and worry about the kids when I am not there, so can’t relax and enjoy myself anyway. Geez I go on, blah blah. I think this blog rocks. And love reading your style. Keep it real. Rock on. Kx

  • Dawn

    Thank God for women like you. I so need posts like these. Thank you!!!